In shift, Springfield Diocese will name all credibly accused priests

The Berkshire Eagle

December 11, 2020

By Larry Parnass

The Springfield Diocese will expand its list of credibly accused priests to include those who died before survivors brought accusations of sexual abuse. The exclusion of such priests long has prevented some victims from seeing their abusers face a public accounting.

The change is a new bishop’s first step in reckoning with a history of clergy abuse in the Catholic diocese that includes Berkshire County. It comes as an independent task force led by a retired Pittsfield judge continues to shape recommendations on how the diocese can improve policies to protect children.

The Rev. William D. Byrne will be installed Monday afternoon as the diocese’s 10th bishop. The move to expand the list of credibly accused clergy, he said, is needed to promote trust and healing.

“We have to wash the wound if we’re ever going to let it heal. And our first responsibility is to victims,” Byrne told The Eagle. “When we talk about victims, we’re not just talking about the individual that experienced the devastation at the hands of somebody who should have been protecting them — a clergy person, or someone who worked for the church. We’re talking about their mom or dad. Their brothers and sisters. Their best friends.”

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