Church leaders need to be open about abuse

Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to a worldwide scandal, The Associated Press has found.

In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe?

AP investigators examined lists released by Catholic dioceses across the country, of clergy “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse.

“An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from the lists,” the news agency reported.

One former priest in Iowa, who had served time in prison for sex offenses, was placed on that diocese’s list only after the AP asked why his name had been missing. A church official blamed the omission on “an oversight.”

Again, however, the AP found more than 900 names of people who should have been on the lists but were not. That is far too many for the church to be claiming it has turned over a new leaf regarding transparency.

In addition, as the AP pointed out, nearly 400 other members of the clergy accused of abuse served in dioceses that have not even released lists of those credibly accused.

The New Ulm Diocese disclosed its list of credibly accused clerics in 2016, as part of settling the lawsuits that had been filed by victims and survivors of abuse. It has done a creditable job of making that list available on its website and updating it as needs be.

Until the Vatican directs all of its diocesan leaders to be as open and forthcoming, the church’s sexual abuse crisis is not going to go away.


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