Jesuit Christians release lists of clergy accused of abusing minors

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(CNN) Two Jesuit provinces in the United States released lists of 84 clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, the latest revelations in the Catholic Church’s long-running and morally damaging sexual abuse crisis.

The two lists, released separately on Monday by the provinces of Maryland and the Midwest, follow two lists released December 7 by the Jesuits’ West and Central/Southern provinces. A fifth North American province, the Northeast, plans to release its list of accused clergy on January 15, according to a spokesman.

Combining the four public lists, more than 230 Jesuits have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor in the United States since the 1950s, according to the provinces. Most of the alleged abuse occurred decades ago, before many parts of the Catholic Church in the United States instituted new safeguards after the last major sexual abuse scandal in 2002-2003.

“The Midwest Jesuits take this step in the spirit of transparency and reconciliation,” said the Rev. Brian G. Paulson, provincial of the Jesuits’ Midwestern province. “As we look back at our history, the failures of the Society of Jesus and the church to protect those entrusted to its care fill our hearts with outrage, sorrow and shame.”

Experts who track abuse and priest assignments in the church have questioned the Jesuits’ lists, saying they omitted dozens of priests who have been credibly accused.

“If the Jesuits aren’t including guys we already know about on their lists, then I don’t have a lot of confidence that they’re including the guys that nobody knows about yet,” said Terence McKiernan, president and co-director of the watchdog website BishopAccountability.org.

Each of the four provinces said they have asked outside firms to audit their files and will update their lists if more information comes forward.

The publication of the Jesuits’ lists of accused clergy comes as the Catholic Church, in the United States and around the world, is again grappling with a wave of scandals that have roiled the faithful, severely damaged the church’s moral credibility and decreased public trust in Pope Francis, according to surveys.

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