Naming Abusers Can Protect Kids

By Margery Eagan
Boston Herald
April 7, 2009

Maybe you too thought the Catholic Church sex scandal was behind us.

You don’t want to hear about it anymore: A press conference announcing survivor groups’ latest efforts got almost no coverage.

So read the depressing facts here first: There are almost certainly predator priests living anonymously in communities around here, or perhaps in retirement in Florida, or even ministering in parishes.

“But we don’t know who they are or how many there are,” says Anne Barrett Doyle, who runs the abuse archive Web site,

That’s because the Boston archdiocese, like most around the country, refuses to name them.

Yet in New Hampshire, where the attorney general just last week released a new list of accused priests, the number nearly doubled, from 67 to 100, since 2003. Has the number nearly doubled around here as well?

“We don’t know that either,” says Barrett Doyle.

So today, Boston’s chapter of Voice of the Faithful, SNAP (Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests) and Barrett Doyle’s BishopAccountability are calling on Archbishop Sean O’Malley again - nearly a decade after it all began - to release these names.

They’re not talking about “a priest accused by some flimsy call in the middle of the night,” said Barrett Doyle. No, they mean priests whose cases, sometimes involving multiple accusations, have been found credible by the archdiocese. They mean priests who’ll never be tried, typically because the statute has run out, but who’ve admitted their abuse to church or even criminal authorities.

SNAP’s David Clohessy says New Hampshire’s new list means there could be hundreds of such priests nationwide. “There is no quicker, simpler cheaper way for a bishop to protect kids than to tell us who they are,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, the archdiocese said it is giving “serious consideration to augmenting our present policy in the area of disclosing information about accused clergy.”

But it hasn’t yet, and no one seems to care.

Yet for days now I’ve heard outrage over Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to be their commencement speaker - because of Obama’s pro-choice stand on abortion, which the church calls an “intrinsic evil.”

Like millions of Catholics, I don’t agree with the Church’s abortion stand, though I understand it and admire its devotion to the protection of the unborn.

I just wish the Church would be equally vigilant about the protection of the born.


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