DC Diocese List Of Priests Accused Of Abuse Is Not Enough: SNAP
By Deb Belt
The Washington, DC, diocese has released the names of 31 priests is says were credibly accused of sexual abuse. Critics say it's not enough.
October 16, 2018
The release by the Archdiocese of Washington of the names of 31 priests deemed "credibly accused" of sexual abuse — along with the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Washington, D.C. archbishop, following criticism of his handling of child sex abuse cases — falls short of what critics say is a comprehensive list. The Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests said the release is a "hastily assembled PR stunt," and only a full list of suspected and convicted abusers compiled by law enforcement would suffice.
The archdiocese posted on its website the names of 28 former clergy of the archdiocese, plus three religious-order priests who served in temporary roles in archdiocesan parishes or schools, who were "credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors from 1948 onward," according to a statement. The list was assembled as part of a review of the archdiocese's archives ordered by Cardinal Wuerl last year.
"This list is a painful reminder of the grave sins committed by clergy, the pain inflicted on innocent young people, and the harm done to the Church's faithful, for which we continue to seek forgiveness," said Cardinal Wuerl. "Our strong commitment to accompany survivors of abuse on their path toward healing is unwavering, but it is also important to note that to our knowledge there has not been an incident of abuse of a minor by a priest of the archdiocese in almost two decades. There is also no archdiocesan priest in active ministry who has ever been the subject of a credible allegation of abuse of a minor."
SNAP replied that the announcement seems to be an attempt to distract church members from resignation due to his role in sexual abuse cover-ups in the Pittsburgh diocese.
Wuerl turned in his resignation letter three years ago when he turned 75 - the mandatory age for Catholic bishops to submit their retirement to the pope. The man CNN labeled one of the world's most powerful Catholic leaders as mentioned prominently in a recently grand jury report identifying more than 300 predator priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including 99 from the Pittsburgh diocese.
The report was highly critical of how Wuerl handled sexual abuse allegations when he was Pittsburgh's bishop. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has accused Wuerl and his successor, current Pittsburgh Bishop Daivd Zubik, of covering up the rapes of children by priests. Both men have denied any cover-up occurred.
SNAP said the list released by the Washington archdiocese is incomplete because it omits the name of Fr. William Wert, a priest who was first charged in 1997 for assaulting a 14-year-old boy and today is serving life in prison. The list also leaves off Fr. Garrett Orr, another priest who was convicted of sexual abuse and made to register as a sex offender in 2011. Similarly, Fr. Matthew Miles himself admitted in a March 2008 deposition that he had molested boys while working in Washington D.C. "Given such easily found omissions, the integrity of the entire list is called into question," SNAP said.
The archdiocese ask anyone aware of suspected sexual misconduct by any clergy, employee, or volunteer of the archdiocese to report it to the authorities or contact the archdiocese at 301-853-5302.
"We believe the only way to get to the truth of these scandals is for attorneys general in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C to begin an independent investigation, one that comes with subpoena power and the ability to compel testimony under oath," SNAP said on its website.
The group also criticized the term "credible accusations," because cases thought to not be credible by church officials were later found credible by law enforcement officials. The Archdiocese should immediately release the names of every priest, whether living or dead, religious order or diocesan, along with accused seminarians, bishops, nuns, brothers and lay employees, which could lead more survivors to come forward, SNAP said. And it encourage abuse victims to make a report to law enforcement officials, not the archdiocese.