Our view: Diocese falls short with its list

Grand Forks Herald

January 6, 2020

By the Herald Editorial Board

The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children. In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said “even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all.”

We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names, since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds.

And while we appreciate the church’s list – accompanied by pre-written comments from Folda and answers to a list of frequently asked questions – we believe the effort still falls short.

For example: The list shows the names of the clergymen accused via substantial allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Included is the year of ordination and also a “status” section; most of the accused are dead, although those still alive have been removed from the ministry.

What’s missing is where those clergymen served. And that’s important, because the people of Pembina, for instance, deserve a reminder that Jules Belleau possibly served there for a time between 1925 and 1973. And people in Grand Forks deserve to know Richard Sinner apparently was pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at UND and also a chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital at times in the 1950s. And that Julius Binder possibly served in Grand Forks at times between 1939 and 1991.

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