Bishop Accountability

Accused Priests: 56 (49 diocesan and 7 order priests)
Total Priests: More than 1,200 (diocesan and order), plus "several hundred" externs
Accusations: 162
Cost: NA

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop Robert Mulvee. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.

Diocese Releases Abuse Statistics Since 1950

February 22, 2004

Officials of the Diocese of Providence today released statistics establishing the number of priests and victims involved in sexual abuse allegations since 1950. As voluntary participants in a nationwide study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Diocese cooperated fully with the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York City throughout 2003 in compiling the statistical research study.

“The Catholic Church must be a safe haven for all of its members, and while we cannot change history, we can make certain that it does not repeat itself,” said Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee, Bishop of Providence. “Once again, I wish to express my deepest sorrow and apologies for errors of the past. They have been a source of tremendous hurt and sadness to many, not only in Rhode Island, but also across the nation and around the world. The Church in this Diocese will continue to respond with concern and sensitivity to those who are victims of sexual abuse, and we remain ever vigilant in our efforts to assure that it never happens again.”

In the Diocese of Providence, 49 diocesan priests were accused of sexual abuse of a minor during the period of 1950 and June of 2002. None of the priests is serving in ministry today. A total of over 1,200 diocesan and religious order priests have served the diocese in full-time pastoral assignments in that time period. In addition to that number, several hundred priests are recorded to have received permission from the bishop for short-term ministry in the diocese, including study, conferences, retreats and missions.

According to the report, of those priests accused:
• 27 are now deceased (including 20 who were already deceased when the abuse was reported).
• 5 left the priesthood for their own personal reasons.
• 4 are elderly, retired and not functioning in any ministry.
• 13 remain suspended from all ministry.

Additionally, seven non-Diocesan priests were accused, and these cases were referred to their respective religious orders because those priests did not report directly to the Bishop of Providence. None of these priests is currently serving in the diocese, and several are deceased.

There were 162 individual accusations presented against the total of 56 priests. Every accusation against a priest has been thoroughly investigated and reported to appropriate state and civil authorities by Lt. Robert McCarthy (ret), director of the diocesan office of education and compliance. Lt. McCarthy, a former member of the Massachusetts State Police, was hired in 1992 as part of the Diocese’s proactive measures to address the sexual abuse issue.

“We willingly participated in this study,” said Monsignor Paul Theroux, moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Providence. “As one of the first dioceses in the nation to implement strong policies and procedures regarding sexual abuse by clergy, we are dedicated to providing victims with the best care, resources and support available. It is our hope that this study will not only help the Church, but will be a resource for our society, to better prevent and deal with the horrific problem of sexual abuse.”

In January, the Diocese of Providence was commended for its “multi-faceted response in handling sexual abuse allegations” in a national audit report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those actions include:

• Paying for counseling with a therapist of the victim’s choice, for as long as the victim deems necessary.
• Hiring Michael Hansen, a Ph.D. clinical psychologist, as the Coordinator of Human Formation and Outreach. Hansen meets one-on-one with victims and facilitates parish meetings to discuss sexual abuse. He also assists in training diocesan employees in recognizing the signs of sexual abuse.
• Revising the Diocese’s policy to include pastoral standards and a code of conduct for all clergy, diocesan staff and employees.
• Instituting background checks and psychological screenings for priesthood candidates.
• Implementing on-going training and periodic evaluation to determine a priesthood candidate’s ability to live a healthy, celibate lifestyle.
• Instituting background checks for all diocesan employees and volunteers who work with youth.
• Establishing the Diocese of Providence’s Safe Environment Program, which includes:
• Education programs for diocesan and parish personnel on the awareness, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
• Training seminars for parents of children who attend Catholic schools or who participate in youth programs.
• Educational programs for children and young people who attend Catholic schools or participate in youth programs. With parental consent, they are offered age-appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and safety skills, boundaries, how to respond to unwanted situations and the importance of disclosure if inappropriate actions are directed to self or others.

For the complete text of the Diocesan Child Protection and Outreach Policy as well as other information about these programs, please visit:

The Diocese of Providence
The Diocese of Providence serves more than 639,000 Roman Catholics in the greater Rhode Island area at 157 churches and shrines. Thanks to generous donations, the Diocese of Providence provided critical services to more than 459,447 Rhode Islanders in 2003, through its hospitals and other social ministries. More than 18,600 Rhode Island children currently attend the Diocese’s 49 elementary and 9 secondary schools.



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