Clergy Abuse: Releasing names is important to justice

Last week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston did an important thing, releasing the names of 31 clergy members who had been accused of sexual abuse, going as far back as the 1950s.

A disappointing number of those clergymen had served congregations or schools here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

But the release of names — and the level of detail given by this diocese on the lists — is an enormous step toward finally doing the right thing for those done irreparable harm by trusted authority figures.

“The diocese sincerely apologizes to all victims of clergy sexual abuse and all the families or individuals who have been affected by sexual abuse within the church,” said Bryan Minor, delegate for administrative affairs for the diocese.

For too long, the men on that list lived under the safety of the church’s silence.

“We failed to protect children,” Minor said. “I wish we could go back in time to change how they treated cases. If we could go back … we certainly would do that.”

To their credit, officials at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston released the names of deceased clergymen accused of abuse — 11 of them. They released full information on incidents. They tried to make it as easy as possible for others who may have been abused to find reference points in the list. And so, they turn their attention now to those who might read the list and be prompted to call a hotline where they can report other incidents or clergy members.

Members of congregations served by the diocese can be relieved such steps have been taken.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore offered some hope that a shift away from protecting abusive clergy members is complete:

“The list undoubtedly reveals the failing of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to fully protect young people within the Church,” he said. “Rightly, many have cause for anger and pain. I offer my sincerest apologies to all victims of sexual abuse and vow to strive to take proper action to ensure the safety of children and others in our care.”

And with the release of this list, it seems as though there is reason to believe he, and others, will.