DO WE MEAN BY "ACCOUNTABILITY"?
It is a matter of public record that
U.S. bishops have knowingly transferred thousands of abusive priests into
unsuspecting parishes and dioceses, placing fear of "scandal"
ahead of the welfare of children. The bishops themselves have apologized
for what they call their "mistake," but they say nothing about
the crucial actions that constitute accountability.
For true "bishop accountability" to occur, two things must happen:
1) there must be a full "account" of the bishops' responsibility
for the sexual abuse crisis, both individually and collectively, and 2)
bishops who have caused the abuse of children and vulnerable adults must
be "held accountable."
1) How will a full account be given? The "account"
of the bishops' responsibility for the crisis has so far come through the
witness of survivors, through documents unearthed by law enforcement and
the legal system, through depositions taken by lawyers, and through media
reports. BishopAccountability.org is dedicated to consolidating and preserving
The "account" has not come from the bishops. Indeed, during this
60-year crisis they have made every effort to conceal the truth from parishioners,
from victims with whom they negotiated settlements, and sometimes even from
each other. In their new era of embarrassed transparency, many of them are
fighting the publication of accused priests' names, and even the production
of legally subpoenaed files. In our view, all diocesan and conference files
relating to the crisis should be made public, so that a full accounting
may begin. Every day that the bishops delay, their "moral authority"
weakens further, and the damage that they have done to the Catholic church
"Studies" by their own hand-picked boards, working with whatever
data the bishops themselves choose to relinquish, is not a full accounting.
2) Who will hold the bishops accountable? Bishops serve
at the Pope's pleasure, and he will accept the resignation of any bishop
who is credibly and publicly accused of abuse (Weakland of Milwaukee WI
and O'Connell of Palm Beach FL), who is indicted or arrested (O'Brien of
Phoenix AZ), or who is a liability because his people and especially his
priests no longer want him (Law of Boston MA).
It is our hope that the information we are collecting at BishopAccountability.org
will help expose bishops who have abused children or vulnerable adults,
or have aided abusers. We hope we can encourage an informed public to demand
indictments of bishops where appropriate. And failing these legal remedies,
we hope that our Web site will embolden priests and laity to beg the removal
of culpable bishops by the Pope.
BishopAccountability.org aims to facilitate
the accountability of the U.S. bishops under civil, criminal, and canon
law. We document the debates about root causes and remedies, because important
information has surfaced during those debates. We take no position on the
root causes, and we do not advocate particular remedies. If the facts are
fully known, the causes and remedies will become clear.
OUR METHOD AND INDEPENDENCE
A.W. Richard Sipe has
said that "secrecy and accountability cannot coexist." In order
to hold the bishops accountable for bringing abusers into the priesthood
and for transferring known abusers into unsuspecting parishes, we need a
comprehensive archive of the evidence. That evidence is vast but scattered.
It is our goal to assemble on the Internet a collection of every publicly
available document and report on the crisis. Already we have posted the
huge archive collected by the New Hampshire attorney general, and we will
soon post the investigative and diocesan files that have been released in
Our standards of inclusion are broad. We offer documents representing every
conceivable perspective on the crisis, and we intend to include every relevant
diocesan and Vatican document. We endorse no particular analysis of the
root causes of the crisis, and we advocate no particular remedies. BishopAccountability.org
makes no claim regarding the accuracy of any document we post, and we have
tried to include the full range of viewpoints, so as to provide a fully
documented landscape of the crisis. We post documents in their entirety,
and we do not edit the content in any way. Please email us with advice for adding documents we have missed.
Wherever possible, we offer links to documents, but we also cache the documents
on our own server, so that once assembled, these resources cannot be dispersed.
The Internet is a valuable resource, but what it giveth it taketh away.
Studies have shown what we all have experienced: links become broken quickly,
and important documents vanish every day from the Internet. BishopAccountability.org
was created so that the entropy of the Internet cannot reinforce the secrecy
of the bishops.
FAIR USE NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this Web
site posts certain copyrighted material without profit for members of the
public who are interested in this material for research and educational
purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this Web site for
purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain
permission from the copyright owner. If you have questions regarding some
of the material posted on this Web site you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLEASE DONATE–HELP COMPLETE THIS PUBLIC
RECORD OF THE CRISIS
BishopAccountability.org has ambitious plans to post all publicly
available documents that are relevant to the Catholic abuse crisis. Your
support will help us complete this important work.
A direct donation would be much appreciated, for any amount that is feasible
for you. We ask you to be as generous as possible. You can give conveniently
through Network for Good by clicking this link or by using the Donate Now button below, or make your check payable to
BishopAccountability.org, Inc. and mail it to:
P.O. Box 541375
Waltham, MA 02454-1375
Donations are tax-deductible.
How will your gift be spent?
One hundred percent of your donation will go toward building this document
collection and making it more accessible to the public.
Your donation will fund necessary activities, including the copying of
legal and diocesan documents, the purchase of resources and equipment
for our research staff, data entry for difficult-to-scan items, and technical
work on our Web site.
Our donations policy
Furthering the accountability of bishops through the posting of a complete
public record of this crisis is our sole mission.
We gratefully accept donations from any individual, foundation, or corporation
that supports this work. However, we will not cooperate with any donor
to further any additional agenda or special interest. In particular, no
donor shall in any way influence what we post so as to secure financial
or business advantage. We enforce this policy to ensure the integrity,
credibility, and usefulness of the archive.
This site is the work of a small staff, and is strictly an educational
enterprise. Please send
us documents to post and suggestions for improving the site.
Contact us at:
- Terry McKiernan (508) 479-9304
- Anne Barrett Doyle (781) 439-5208
BishopAccountability.org, Inc. is a Massachusetts non-profit corporation. See our Form 990s for 2009, 2010, and 2011.
The members of the Board of Directors are Sylvia Demarest, Anne Barrett
Doyle, Terence McKiernan, Lee Podles, and Phil Saviano.
This Web site is dedicated to the victims and their families and loved