ARCHIVES AND RESEARCH
BishopAccountability.org is a digital and brick-and-mortar archive of the Catholic clergy abuse crisis; the staff also does basic research. We establish assignment histories of accused clergy and religious, maintain a database of accused, and track the lists of accused that the dioceses and religious orders have published. Our Database of Accused in the United States comprises more than 7,300 records as of September 30, 2021.
Our website makes publicly available more than 63,630 pages of church files; over 121,000 news articles; a collection of investigative and other reports and studies totaling more than 100,000 pages; and over 1,880 archived copies of lists of accused, created by more than 150 dioceses and more than 25 religious institutes and provinces.
Our physical archive includes 243,770 pages of publicly released church files; over a million pages of other church files; the Demarest Archive of accused persons totaling more than 25,880 sources; and the Podles Archive of diocesan and topic files totaling 157 linear feet. Lee Podles and the late Richard Sipe also donated to BishopAccountability.org their scholarly libraries of books about the clergy abuse crisis.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “ACCOUNTABILITY”?
It is a matter of public record that U.S. bishops have knowingly transferred thousands of abusive priests into unsuspecting parishes and dioceses, placing fear of “scandal” ahead of the welfare of children. The bishops themselves have apologized for what they call their “mistake,” but they say nothing about the crucial actions that constitute accountability.
For true “bishop accountability” to occur, two things must happen: 1) there must be a full “account” of the bishops’ responsibility for the sexual abuse crisis, both individually and collectively, and 2) bishops who have caused the abuse of children and vulnerable adults must be “held accountable.”
1) How will a full account be given? The “account” of the bishops’ responsibility for the crisis has so far come through the witness of survivors, through documents unearthed by law enforcement and the legal system, through depositions taken by lawyers, and through media reports. BishopAccountability.org is dedicated to consolidating and preserving that record.
The “account” has not come from the bishops. Indeed, during this 60-year crisis they have made every effort to conceal the truth from parishioners, from victims with whom they negotiated settlements, and sometimes even from each other. In their new era of embarrassed transparency, many of them are fighting the publication of accused priests’ names, and even the production of legally subpoenaed files. In our view, all diocesan and conference files relating to the crisis should be made public, so that a full accounting may begin. Every day that the bishops delay, their “moral authority” weakens further, and the damage that they have done to the Catholic church increases.
“Studies” by their own hand-picked boards, working with whatever data the bishops themselves choose to relinquish, is not a full accounting.
2) Who will hold the bishops accountable? Bishops serve at the Pope’s pleasure, and he will accept the resignation of any bishop who is credibly and publicly accused of abuse (Weakland of Milwaukee WI and O’Connell of Palm Beach FL), who is indicted or arrested (O’Brien of Phoenix AZ), or who is a liability because his people and especially his priests no longer want him (Law of Boston MA).
It is our hope that the information we are collecting at BishopAccountability.org will help expose bishops who have abused children or vulnerable adults, or have aided abusers. We hope we can encourage an informed public to demand indictments of bishops where appropriate. And failing these legal remedies, we hope that our Web site will embolden priests and laity to beg the removal of culpable bishops by the Pope.BishopAccountability.org aims to facilitate the accountability of the U.S. bishops under civil, criminal, and canon law. We document the debates about root causes and remedies, because important information has surfaced during those debates. We take no position on the root causes, and we do not advocate particular remedies. If the facts are fully known, the causes and remedies will become clear.
OUR METHOD AND INDEPENDENCE
Our standards of inclusion are broad. We offer documents representing every conceivable perspective on the crisis, and we intend to include every relevant diocesan and Vatican document. We endorse no particular analysis of the root causes of the crisis, and we advocate no particular remedies. BishopAccountability.org makes no claim regarding the accuracy of any document we post, and we have tried to include the full range of viewpoints, so as to provide a fully documented landscape of the crisis. We post documents in their entirety, and we do not edit the content in any way. Please email us with advice for adding documents we have missed.
Wherever possible, we offer links to documents, but we also cache the documents on our own server, so that once assembled, these resources cannot be dispersed. The Internet is a valuable resource, but what it giveth it taketh away. Studies have shown what we all have experienced: links become broken quickly, and important documents vanish every day from the Internet. BishopAccountability.org was created so that the entropy of the Internet cannot reinforce the secrecy of the bishops.
FAIR USE NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this Web site posts certain copyrighted material without profit for members of the public who are interested in this material for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this Web site for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you have questions regarding some of the material posted on this Web site you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLEASE DONATE–HELP COMPLETE THIS PUBLIC RECORD OF THE CRISIS
Donations are tax-deductible. Thank you!
How will your gift be spent?
One hundred percent of your donation will go toward building this document collection and making it more accessible to the public.
Your donation will fund necessary activities, including the copying of legal and diocesan documents, the purchase of resources and equipment for our research staff, data entry for difficult-to-scan items, and technical work on our Web site.
Our donations policy
Furthering the accountability of bishops through the posting of a complete public record of this crisis is our sole mission. We gratefully accept donations from any individual, foundation, or corporation that supports this work. However, we will not cooperate with any donor to further any additional agenda or special interest. In particular, no donor shall in any way influence what we post so as to secure financial or business advantage. We enforce this policy to ensure the integrity, credibility, and usefulness of the archive.
BishopAccountability.org, Inc. is a Massachusetts non-profit corporation. See our Form 990s and financial information here.
Contact us at:
– Terry McKiernan (508) 479-9304
– Anne Barrett Doyle (781) 439-5208
P.O. Box 541375
Waltham, MA 02454-1375
The members of the Board of Directors are Sylvia Demarest, Anne Barrett Doyle, Terence McKiernan, Lee Podles, and Phil Saviano.
This Web site is dedicated to the victims and their families and loved ones.