Cardinal hopes releasing names of priests will restore trust

By Brian Witte
Associated Press
September 26, 2002

Baltimore – Cardinal William Keeler compared the Catholic Church's struggle with pedophile priests to the apostles' confrontation with Judas, as the archdiocese Wednesday released names of clergy accused of child sexual abuse.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has identified 83 men who church officials believe have been credibly accused of abuse over the past seven decades.

"If Judas' betrayal had not been confronted - and if the other 11 had not carried on in servant leadership, the church and its centuries of good works might not exist," Keeler wrote in a letter to the 180,000 members of the diocese.

"We each must answer evil with personal acts of holiness," Keeler wrote. "While taking responsibility for the betrayal of priests who abused children - and serving those they harmed - we must rededicate ourselves to the mission and faith served by the remaining 11 apostles."

Keeler said the archdiocese wants people to know that church officials will be as open as possible about the sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the church.

The archdiocese, which has been criticized by victim support groups for taking too long to make the names public, worked for months to gather information, Keeler said.

"I don't see how we could have done it sooner," Keeler said. "It took so long to get the material together."

But Mark Serrano, a board member of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, described the disclosure as "long overdue," since dioceses around the country have conducted similar reviews months ago.

Serrano also said he thought an independent panel should compile the information.

"Frankly, based on the crime-and-cover-up scandal that has finally begun to be revealed across the country this year, no diocese in America should be responsible for reviewing its own files," Serrano said.

The cardinal said the names were released to respond to questions from church members and to encourage victims to come forward and get treatment. He also said it was a way of showing support for good priests who are doing their jobs, because the scandal has caused people to suspect all clergy.

Keeler met Wednesday with priests to discuss the disclosure. He said he was asked about the archdiocese's commitment to provide due process, and he assured them that accused priests would get legal representation.

Keeler said there "was quite a bit of anger, and I was not a bit surprised."

Asked to describe what the priests were angry about, Keeler said: "I think it went in several different directions."

Keeler also said he told the priests that they would have support and that "I wanted to show that we were caring for them."

The names were released around 1 p.m. Wednesday on the archdiocese's Web site. They also were published in the diocesean newspaper.

None of the 57 men on the list is now in ministry. All cases have been reported to authorities, the archdiocese said. Twenty-six of the priests died before their accusers came forward. Their names were not included on the list.

"We have determined not to disclose these names since we cannot question the accused," the archdiocese said in its explanation of the list.

The cardinal said that the archdiocese has reached settlements with eight victims totaling $4.1 million over the past 20 years. Most of it was covered by insurance. Over the past 15 years, $419,186 has been spent on psychological counseling for victims.

The archdiocese also spent $112,520 for legal expenses for accused priests, $616,201 to cover the living expenses of suspended priests and $387,019 for psychiatric treatment and ordinary medical expenses for suspended priests.

Keeler also said any additional information about other accused abusers will be released.


















Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.