Oh - Ousted Cleveland Predator Priest Passes Away

By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
April 10, 2013

An accused predator priest from the Diocese of Cleveland has just passed away. Despite promises from church officials to be “open and transparent” about accused clerics, as best as we can tell not one church official in Cleveland told parishioners or the public about the passing of Fr. Joseph Lang.

Fr. Lang was accused in 1987 of raping a young boy while he worked at St. Philomena Parish in Cleveland. He allegedly admitted his guilt when he was sent for treatment. In 2002, the Vatican permanently removed him from active ministry and sent him to “live a life of prayer and penance.” (

Being honest about the death of a credibly accused predator priest matters for several reasons:

First, it’s comforting when victims know that their perpetrator can no longer hurt any other kids. But that doesn’t happen (or happens years later) if the predator’s death is kept secret.

Second, sometimes victims who are trapped in fear, shame and self-blame feel ‘liberated’ when their perpetrator dies. They are then more apt to speak up, get help, expose wrongdoing and start healing. But that doesn’t happen (or happens years later) if the predator’s death is kept secret.

Third, it’s important and reassuring when bishops keep their promises to be open about clergy sex crimes and cover ups. And it’s distressing – for victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and parishioners – when they do not.

During his time as a priest, Lang worked at St. Mary’s in Elyria, OH (1965-1969), St. Thomas More in Cleveland (1969-1971), St. Philomena in Cleveland (1971-1987), Christ our Savior in Prince George, BC, Canada (1991-1996), Church of the Resurrection in Fort St. John, BC, Canada (1996-2002), and Sacred Heart in Terrace, BC, Canada (2002).


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