Nabi Sayeth: Alexander Pope wrote “Hope Springs Eternal” in his poem, “An Essay on Man”. And for sure, with the announcement that the diocese in West Virginia “will release the names of all people credibly accused of ‘child sexual abuse’ since the 1950’s”, there appears to be some cause for hope:
WHEELING, W.VA.—Archbishop William E. Lori, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, announced today that the Diocese will release the names of all priests, deacons and religious credibly accused of child sexual abuse aware since 1950, the period in which it still has records. The release will include a list of the accused priests’ assignments during their tenure in the Diocese. None of the individuals who will be listed are currently in active ministry.
“The trust of the people has been badly damaged. Disclosing the names of all those credibly accused of abuse is a critical step toward repairing that broken trust,” Archbishop Lori said. “I pray this will lead toward healing and demonstrate the Diocese’s firm commitment to transparency and accountability.”
Archbishop Lori has directed Bryan Minor, Delegate of Administrative Affairs for the Diocese, to oversee the process of reviewing files in preparation for the disclosure.
“We have begun the review of all available files and will create a list that is as comprehensive as possible,” Minor said. “For the sake of transparency and openness, we will release the list as soon as the preparatory work is complete and after it has been reviewed and confirmed by our independent Diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board.”
Minor said that it is important to remember the victims of sexual abuse in prayer, particularly those harmed by those in the Church. “We ask all West Virginians to join the faithful of the Diocese and remember in prayer all those who have been affected by sexual abuse,” he said.
When its list is published, Minor said that the Diocese will continue to support victims. “The Diocese has a longstanding Victim Outreach program, and we will continue to make those services available to our local Church.”
“The Diocese has fully implemented the standards that were set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the protection of children and young people in 2002. Since that time, the Diocese has remained fully compliant with those standards and are audited yearly to ensure their implementation.
“As of 2017, more than 7,800 children and youth received awareness training coordinated by the Diocese, and more than 109 priests, along with deacons and seminarians, are in compliance with Safe Environment protocol and received ongoing awareness education,” Minor added.
Nearly 7,000 employees and volunteers statewide are in compliance with Safe Environment protocol, including Catholic school principals and teachers, and volunteers in parishes, schools and charitable agencies. “This is made possible by 150 local level Safe Environment coordinators who secure a proper learning and worship environment for young people to belong to or visit our facilities, programs and Churches. They are the front line in our battle to eliminate threats to children and youth.”But Nabi asketh: Is this it? While this announcement is welcome, is this all that will be revealed to the long-waiting public? Some most important questions linger:
- The announcement reads: “will release the names of all priests, deacons and religious credibly accused of child sexual abuse aware since 1950, the period in which it still has records.” But WHAT ABOUT THE CONTENTS OF THE PRIEST PERSONNEL FILES THAT WERE DESTROYED BY ORDER OF BISHOP SCHULTE IN 1986? Should every effort not be made to learn what was contained in those files as painstakingly an effort as that may be? Are the victims not worth every effort that can be made? Would consultation with the law firm that represented the diocese at the time be productive?
- What about the cases involving post-pubescent young people, such as the boy/young man who was only two weeks into his 18th birthday and mildly mentally handicapped, and given alcohol by the founding pastor of St. Stephen’s in Ona and forcibly sodomized? Did he “miss the cut” by a mere two weeks?
- Will the dollar amount of all settlements and payouts be announced? (Including non-disclosure agreements)
- Will the anticipated announcement include an admission that predator priests were transferred around the diocese including to parishes with Catholic schools on numerous occasions? (Such as the Filipino who offered to give alcohol back rubs to teen boys in Princeton and who was moved about like a checker piece on a Diocesan checker board including an assignment to Madonna High School and now to St. Joseph, Martinsburg?)
- Will the announcement be simply a “drop and stop” of names? Will a number of names be dropped on the public with no further commitment to assist the victims through some sort of “rehab” effort? Even though cash has been paid, what about the harm that has been done to the faith of the victims? While the thought of practicing the Catholic faith may be repulsive to the victims at this time in their lives, does the Church just cut them off and allow their souls to decay? Is it not time to move beyond what is expected by the legal system to what the Gospel requires?
- Is it not possible for the diocese in West Virginia to set a national level example by setting up a ministry to the victims of child, pre and post-pubescent sexual abuse?
- What discipline can be administered to those clergymen who are well aware of and who have even assisted or covered for abusive clergymen (Such as the chancery clergyman who “referred” the 18 year old young man to the clergyman who raped him?)
- Will there be some conversion/education effort that will demonstrate to clergymen the SINFULNESS, danger and harm caused by using child, pre and post-pubescent pornography? (Yes, there are clergymen who are clueless as to the nature of sin)
- Will the diocese, FINALLY, put into place the mandate issued by both Popes Benedict and Francis that homosexuals are not to be accepted into the seminary?
Nabi Sayeth: It is not the time for a ticker tape parade. The anticipated announcement is only a beginning and one that is required to meet the demands of Justice. But true credibility, and most important, healing, will only begin when EVERY dimension of the scandal is addressed ,and which effort is motivated by true and sincere Gospel love….the Catholic way.