Ex-Priest Says Just Be Honest

By Kevin Eigelbach
Cincinnati Post [Cincinnati OH]
Downloaded February 26, 2004

Former priest Patrick J. Wall says the Catholic Church needs to do three things to put the sexual abuse scandal behind it: get rid of the perpetrators, take care of the victims and be honest with people.

For five years in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., the then-Rev. Wall stepped in for priests removed from parishes for sexual misconduct. Now, he works for a law firm, Manley and McGuire in Costa Mesa, Calif., which represents 100 victims of priest sex abuse in three states.

The numbers Cincinnati and other dioceses are releasing are less than transparent because they lack details such as names of priests, names of parishes where the abuse happened, the sex of the victim and other information, he said.

"God is in the details," he said. "The only way we can come to any understanding of this horrific tragedy that came down is if we know the whole story. That's why priest personnel records need to be made public."

If the Archdiocese of Cincinnati did that, it would bring to light false accusations, too, which would tarnish the reputation of innocent priests, spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

And even if the archdiocese opened its personnel records, he said, nothing would prevent critics from saying some had been destroyed. "What they're implying is that there may be more reports than we say," he said. "There's no way to prove that."

The diocese has released the names of the priests placed on administrative leave after credible allegations of abuse have been made. It is withholding the names of accused priests who are dead out of respect for their families and because they are not able to answer the allegations.

The bishops are only reporting cases involving minors, Wall said, but they are sitting on cases involving priests who have fathered children by adult women.