Baltimore archdiocese posts list of accused priests

Source: The Baltimore Sun

By Alison Knezevich

Contact Reporter The Baltimore Sun

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has posted a list of dozens of priests and religious brothers accused of sexual abuse in a move church officials say came from listening to feedback from abuse survivors.

All of the names had previously been disclosed by the church, in most cases years ago. But activists say having them in one place can help encourage victims to come forward — and help expose the scope of abuse.

“We’ve wanted it a long time,” said David Lorenz, Maryland director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “We’ve asked every diocese around the country to do it.”

The list, posted on the archdiocese website, includes the names of 71 clergymen about whom church officials have received what they call “credible” accusations during the priest’s lifetime.

Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said the list was posted in January, but church officials didn’t announce it because the list included no new information.

The decision to post the names was “a response to what we’ve heard from survivors,” Caine said. “It’s something we’ve been working on for a while.”

Included are 57 names that were first posted on the archdiocese website in 2002 under Cardinal William H. Keeler, eight months after a Boston Globe investigation exposed sexual abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese. That list was eventually taken down.

Also posted on the new list are 14 names of priests accused after 2002.

When Keeler released the original list in 2002, he said the abuse of children by priests was “the spiritual equivalent of murder.”

“My fellow bishops and I must respond to the violence already visited on our children by saying we are sorry,” Keeler wrote in a letter to Catholic households.

“At times, we have let our fears of scandal override the need for the kind of openness that helps prevent abuse. In the past, we sometimes have responded to victims and their families as adversaries, not as suffering members of the Church. I am deeply sorry for the harm done to children entrusted to our care.”

Keeler’s move sparked controversy among Baltimore priests at the time.

Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, said such lists can be “a very scary proposition for priests,” pointing out that in most instances the priest has not been convicted of a crime.

“No matter how often you say ‘accused,'” Reese said, “as far as the public is concerned, these people are guilty.”

But he added that across the country, victims of abuse have experienced the pain of denial by the church.

“That, for many, was just as harmful as the abuse itself,” he said. “To have their abuse acknowledged and recognized by the church and apologized for is extremely important for them in their healing process.”

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