Catholic Bishop Took Burden off Priests by Naming Actual Abusers

News Journal [Wilmington DE]
November 17, 2006

Wilmington Bishop Michael Saltarelli took the right step Thursday when he released the names of priests accused of sexually molesting minors.

He accomplished three things for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. This aligned the diocese with the church's position that victims need to be supported and encouraged to come forward and seek help.

Publication of the 20 names in the diocese's weekly newspaper moved the local leadership beyond a long-drawn and unbalanced preoccupation with defending fellow clergymen before their day in court. Those against whom the diocese received "admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated" allegations include eight living priests, plus two who once ministered in the Wilmington diocese but were accused of abuse elsewhere.

The recent arrest of the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca on similar charges in Syracuse was a factor in Bishop Saltarelli's decision. In 1993, the diocese allowed the Rev. DeLuca to retire to his hometown when allegations of sexual abuse surfaced. He was forbidden to participate in public ministry, but his offenses were never publicly acknowledged -- until his arrest last month on similar charges. A Syracuse 18-year-old told his parents that DeLuca had been abusing him for at least the past five years.

Finally, the names will help quell speculation about the guilt of every priest serving the diocese's 220,000 Catholics living in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The matter isn't closed yet. Much more healing of the victims and of the church's reputation must take place. But the bishop's action is an important step forward.


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