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Bishops ‘Spilling’ Lists of Accused Priests Ahead of Probes

The good news is that American bishops are beginning, independent of papal direction, to publicly release lists of priests “credibly accused” of sexual abuse crimes, particularly against children.

The bad news is it’s not as simple as it sounds.

A Dec. 14 article in The New York Times — “Lists of Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse Are Spilling Out Across the Country” — reported on this new trend, stating:

“As the Catholic Church faces a wave of federal and state attorney general investigations into its handling of sex abuse, bishops around the country have struggled with how to react. Some have locked down defensively. Others are waiting on guidance from the Vatican, which instructed American bishops last month to wait on taking any collective action until the new year.”

Already, dozens of bishops have released lists of accused priests in their dioceses, and the Times story reports they’re “being released at an unprecedented pace.” Terry McKiernan, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sex abuse cases, counted “at least 35” dioceses releasing such lists. That’s nearly double the number released in one year since 2002, when the first one was independently publicized by the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona.

“We’ve never seen this kind of outpouring before … it’s a dramatic change in how bishops are approaching this,” McKiernan said.

The lists are coming out on the heels of a stunning grand jury report released in August by Pennsylvania’s attorney general, which laid out in wrenching detail sex assaults against more than 1,000 victims by more than 300 priests. Similar investigations sprouted in more than a dozen other states. A nationwide federal probe also appears likely, as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in November notified every diocese in the country not to destroy documents regarding their handling of child sexual abuse cases.

Read more at Patheos