Release Names of Accused Priests

By Mark Crawford
February 7, 2006

THE WHOLE TRUTH is long overdue. The reemergence of defrocked priest and admitted child molester James Hanley raises a number of concerns. First and foremost, it seems clear this man is still dangerous and should be monitored.

But it's also a reminder that the mess created by the Catholic Church still lingers.

If it were not for the bishops' actions to conceal and return to ministry dangerous predators, men like Hanley would have been where they belong, behind bars.

And even now, some bishops also refuse to make public the names of those priests who are credibly accused of child abuse. They also refuse to create a database of these clerics so our communities may be informed. The bishops are acting no differently than Simon of Cyrene, the unwilling servant pressed into service to help bear Christ's cross.

The clergy abuse scandal is the cross they refuse to bear. This shouldn't surprise anyone. The church seems unable to come to terms with the legacy of shattered lives left by predator priests.

When victims come forward today, the offenders are almost always beyond the reach of our civil law. Victims have little choice but to rely on a highly secretive canonical process, which is controlled by the bishops some of whom hid these abusers and concealed their crimes to begin with.

Some are defrocked. But like Hanley, they wind up back into our communities. And many bishops would (like Pontius Pilate did) wash their hands of the whole mess. The Paterson Diocese said recently it's considering what, if anything, it should do to keep tabs on Hanley.

When will the church start taking some responsibility?

The clergy abuse scandal, four years after it erupted, is still an open wound and festering sore on the body of the church. It will not heal until this wound is cleaned out. This will only occur when the whole truth has been told.

If our Catholic Church is to restore any sense of credibility, it must release the names of all those credibly accused, priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, before this body will begin to heal. The whole truth is long overdue.

If the church continues to ignore its responsibility, society has no other choice than to enact laws to protect our children and families.

Mark Crawford, a victim of clergy abuse, is director of, a group fighting to change New Jersey laws limiting liability of charitable institutions. Send comments about this article to


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