In any newspaper, the “Letters to the Editor” section is a real grab bag – sometimes goofy, sometimes confusing, and sometimes really perceptive.
In that latter category falls this one which appeared under the headline: “There’s no excuse for delaying Marianists’ victims list.” Here it is:
After decades of protecting predators, a locally based religious order recently released the names of dozens of child molesters it employed at area high schools.
I wondered why they are just disclosing this now. So I checked the website of the group, the Marianists. It said, ‘Our intent was to publish the list during the recent Lenten season. However, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the provincial council discerned it was in the best interest of the Province and our institutions to postpone the announcement to a more prudent time. The decision was later made to publish this list in June 2020.’ Huh?
What’s prudent about hiding — for even just weeks or months — the identities of 46 clerics that their own colleagues and supervisors publicly acknowledge are or were “found to have sexually abused a minor?” Those aren’t my words. That’s straight from the Marianist website.
That deliberate delay is irresponsible, not “prudent.” That gives criminals more time to hide their tracks, intimidate their victims, change their names, move overseas and take more and smarter steps to evade justice.
Kudos to this letter writer, Dan Mosby of St. Louis Missouri. He nails it when he points out that it’s ‘irresponsible,’ not ‘prudent,’ to spend ‘weeks or months’ hiding the names of men who have hurt kids and may be hurting kids right now.
Church defenders brag that most US bishops and some religious orders (like the Marianists) have now posted lists of predators’ names and that few institutions do this.
What they neglect to admit, however, is that
—these lists are often vague and unusually incomplete,
—victims and advocates pushed for these lists for decades, and
—these disclosures should never have been made in list form. They should have been done one by one.
Bishops should release the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics ONE AT A TIME, on the same day their wrongdoing has been made or proven clear or likely.
Because that’s how these determinations are made (or should be) – one at a time – in meetings in church offices. So waiting to put together a list, long or short, inevitably means information that might spare a child from a devastating crime stays hidden. And only wrongdoers benefit from such delays and secrecy.
Few outside the church hierarchy know this, but every month, a newsletter of sorts is sent out to all US bishops from their national conference in Washington DC. In it, names of problematic priests are given: priests who are con artists or embezzlers or preach wrong doctrines or (sometimes) assault kids or adults. What this means is that privately, about every 30 days, bishops are warned about troublesome clerics who might hurt their flock, their finances or their public images should these clerics move to or pass through their dioceses.
But that information is rarely shared with the pubic, leaving the public vulnerable to financial scans and sexual abuse.
(As an example, see the case below of Fr. Peter Balili, an Opus Dei priest who attended Notre Dame, worked in California, worked with “Shrines of Europe Pilgrimage,” spent time in three dioceses in California and Illinois and may be in the Philippines now.)
And that leads to an obvious, simple question: why aren’t bishops’ public lists of credibly accused child molesters updated at least monthly? If one genuinely cares about vulnerable kids and wounded adults, that’s the least one would do.
Until the Catholic hierarchy starts warning the public about predators as often and as effectively as it warns its bishops about problematic priests, boys and girls will remain at risk in this institution.
(Here is the Marianists’ credibly accused clerics list: https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/marianists-release-names-of-members-they-say-abused-children-including-17-in-st-louis/63-97e86604-8fc7-4ae1-a032-51579fb1f678