The Catholic Church broke its promise to publish a list of “credibly accused” abuser priests, so Propublica did it for them

By Cory Doctorow | 28 January 2020
Boing Boing

(Credit: Propublica)

In 2019 the Pennsylvania Attorney General published a 900-page grand jury report on sexual predators in the Catholic Church and the coverups the church and its officials had undertaken; at the time, the church promised to end the coverup and engage in truth and reconciliation with the parishoners who’d been preyed upon by clergy.

Today, 178 Archdioceses have published lists of the priests they consider “credibly accused,” according to criteria that vary widely from diocese to diocese — the US Conference of Catholic Bishops says it has no authorities to dictate standards for these lists.

41 dioceses have not published lists. These dioceses serve more than 9,000,000 Catholics, and include the dioceses of Rockville Centre, NY (1.5m parishoners); Fresno, CA (1.2m parishoners); Miami, FL (790,000 parishoners), and San Francisco, CA (445,000 parishoners).

The quality of the cooperating dioceses’ lists is highly variable: some exclude members of religious orders (like the Jesuits), who constitute 30% of the priests in America. Other lists don’t include the names of priests whose survivors have received settlements from the church, but who are not themselves considered “credibly accused” apparently. Names appear and disappear from the list all the time.

Propublica has produced a searchable database of known accused priests, searchable by name/cit/diocese (they explain their methodology here), and they’ve made the data available for download.

The database is accompanied by an excellent, deeply reported story by Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders.

It’s impossible to know how many accused clergy members dioceses have opted not to put on their lists.

Bishop Accountability applies different standards for inclusion on its list than church leaders, tracking public accusations against nuns and other clergy members often left off the official rolls.

As a result, there are sometimes substantial gaps between the group’s tallies and those of dioceses.

The Archdiocese of Boston currently lists 171 names. Bishop Accountability lists 279, including dozens of religious order priests omitted from the official list as well as several priests who died before victims came forward.

“For every person who’s left off a list, bishops ought to be aware that they are retraumatizing survivors and doubling the insult and doubling the pain,” Terence McKiernan, the founder of Bishop Accountability, said.

Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency About Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered. [Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders/Propublica]

Pennsylvania Attorney General: We Have Evidence Vatican Knew About Sex Abuse | TODAY

Abuse in the Catholic Church | DW Documentary

Retired Bishop Trautman admits he blamed victim of clergy sex abuse

Unforgivable | The priest sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church

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