The Archdiocese of Boston recently decided to post the names of 159 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese also noted they have received allegations against 91 other priests. However, the names of the priests involved have not been made public. There is no indication if this is because the allegations have not been validated by the Church.
Change in Policy
The disclosure represents a rather radical shift in the traditional approach taken by the Catholic Church towards allegations of sexual abuse.
In the past, when a Diocese has validated claims of sexual abuse and compensated victims the church has often insisted on confidentiality or non-disclosure clauses as a condition of settlement.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley says the new approach is an attempt to help the church reach out to victims of abuse and their families. In a letter accompanying the announcement O’Malley stated:
“It is my deepest hope and prayer is that the efforts I am announcing today will provide some additional comfort and healing for those who have suffered from sexual abuse by clergy and will continue to strengthen our efforts to protect God’s children…”
What Will Canadian Bishops Do?
The disclosure is a good first step to ensuring transparency over the issue of childhood abuse by priests. I support the initiative and would call on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to instruct Diocese in Canada to adopt similar policies in Diocese’s across Canada.
What Do You Think?
Should the names of priests accused of sexual abuse be made public? What if there is no criminal conviction but the claim has been validated by the Church? What if the priest is dead?
Let me know what you think.