|Clergy Watchdog Group Presses Archdiocese for Full List of Accused Priests
By Lane Lambert
March 11, 2011
A clergy abuse watchdog group is asking Attorney General Martha Coakley to force the Boston archdiocese to release all the information church officials have about all accused priests.
The Waltham group Bishop Accountability.org made the request Thursday, after releasing the names of nine priests previously not known to have been accused.
One of them is the late Rev. John Curley, who was an assistant pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Braintree in the late 1960s. The Rev. Curley died in November 1999, more than a year before the once-secret 2001 archdiocese report was prepared by the sexual misconduct review board.
The Rev. Curley was known for having started the Pilgrim Center for troubled youth. From 1967 to 1969 he was at the Braintree parish with the Rev. Paul Shanley, one of the archdiocese's most notorious abusers. In 1967, the two priests started a folk Mass for teenagers at St. Francis of Assisi. The Rev. Curley later was pastor at St. Gerard Majella Church in Canton.
Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop Acccountability said the Rev. Curley is identified as one of the nine accused priests in part from information in the 2000 Official Catholic Directory. Details of the alleged incident are not in the 2001 Delegate Report from the review board. While Doyle said the Rev. Curley's inclusion on the 2001 list does not indicate whether the alleged incident was substantive, she said the accusation was enough to merit consideration. Whether the accusation was from a child or an adult is not known, she said.
The group found the names among 53 priests listed in a little-known archdiocese report from 2001, which summarized accusations against priests and their treatment, and the cost of victims’ treatments and settlements.
Doyle said three have died.
While the report includes no details of the priests’ alleged abuse, Doyle said in a Patriot Ledger interview that the document shows there is still “cause for alarm” about how open Cardinal Sean O’Malley and other church officials are with victims and the public.
“They could all be innocent or guilty or in between,” Doyle said of the nine priests. “That we have names that were before the review board is of concern.”
She said the need for a Boston list is even more urgent in the wake of a recent Philadelphia grand jury report that 37 accused priests there remained in active ministry. (The cardinal has suspended 21 of them.)
In prepared statements, Coakley said her office will meet with Bishop Accountability “in the near future,” while archdiocese officials said they are reviewing the group’s request “to determine the veracity of the information” about the priests.
“It is important to note that the archdiocese notifies law enforcement of any allegation of child sexual abuse it receives,” the statement said.
Bishop Accountability and other victim advocate and lay reform groups have been pressing the archdiocese to publish a complete list of what they call “credibly accused priests” for more than two years. They point to more than 20 other U.S. dioceses that have done so.
In early 2010, an archdiocese spokesman said the cardinal hoped to have such a list ready by the end of the year. In late January of this year, church officials said they were still evaluating “the complexities of this initiative.”
The issue has confronted Cardinal O’Malley since he arrived in Boston in 2003, as the successor to embattled Cardinal Bernard Law. The archdiocese’s clergy abuse scandal emerged in 2002 and led to Cardinal Law’s resignation.
The archdiocese had no formal policy to review abuse accusations and discipline or defrock priests until 1993, in the wake of criminal charges against the Rev. James Porter and Rev. John Hanlon. (Both were later convicted. Porter died in prison in 2005. Hanlon is serving concurrent life sentences.)
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