Why Is This Necessary?
At one time, when a claim of sexual abuse was made, the Catholic church simply covered up the problem by ignoring the parishioner, failing to report the priest to law enforcement or reassigning the priest. The Diocese’s goals were to prevent scandal and thereby protect itself.
Even after the abuse scandal came to light, however, the dioceses around the nation did not confront the problem head on because they were not forced to do so. They quietly settled cases where forced to but never released the names of the offending priests. Just in the last few months, Diocese in California and in fact around the nation are being forced by public pressure to release names of pedophile priests. The San Diego’s diocese has a published a list of offending priests as has the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange. The problem, however, is that some names are missing from the list of credibly accused priests. A recent civil suit by a victim of a Southern California priest decades ago, however, seeks to change that. He hopes the church will release the names of every single clergy member accused of sexual misconduct, living or dead, along with the records the church kept documenting abuse.
Will It Help?
The church has suggested that this move will do nothing to help heal its community. Victims, however, believe full disclosure is a symbolic step many need to heal. Some have said this is a way to address an issue the church kept hidden for so many years. Some have suggested it might be a way to help victims who haven’t yet disclosed feel some solace. Some, though, believe that it will finally force the church to reveal the full scope of the problem given that dioceses’ self reporting has often proven to be incomplete as the church tried to respond to sexual abuse allegations and put an end to the problem.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of sexual abuse at the hand of a priest or another clergy member, please consider contacting attorney Paul Mones to discuss your options.