|Our Opinion: Time for Church to Honor Transparency Promise
The Patriot Ledger
June 21, 2011
News last week that a defrocked priest had been working for a decade as a high school counselor on the South Shore will hopefully revive the push to get the Archdiocese of Boston to fulfill a transparency promise it made in 2009.
When Robert F. Daly applied to become a school psychologist at Silver Lake Regional High School in 2001, the school was not able to completely investigate the former Weymouth priest’s past because a lawsuit against him alleging sexual assault was settled privately with the archdiocese.
Officials didn’t learn about his past until the archdiocese announced last Tuesday that Daly, at his own request, had been defrocked. The news came only months before Daly was set to retire. He has since been put on a leave of absence by the school.
The news also comes more than two years after Cardinal Sean O’Malley said the church would soon address criticisms of its failure to release the names of all priests who have been credibly accused of sex crimes.
Yet no such change has been made, and no new list has been released.
Hundreds of priests in the archdiocese were pulled from parishes and dropped out of sight as the clergy sex abuse scandal reached its height in 2002. Among them were dozens who had been assigned to South Shore churches. Many cases against these men weren’t prosecuted solely because the statute of limitations had expired.
A Patriot Ledger report in 2008 found many local priests who were suspended on suspicion of sex abuse still live in the area.
O’Malley has said the process of releasing names from old cases is complicated by concerns about due process and privacy rights yet it is inconsistent with a policy of publicly identifying current priests removed from active ministry while being investigated on sex abuse accusations.
Delaying the release of a complete list also makes it appear as if the church is putting the community’s concerns for public safety on a lower tier of importance.
Employers, whether schools or summer camps, should not be denied information that can and should have bearing on their hiring decisions.
It’s time for the Archdiocese of Boston to rectify this.
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