Santa wasn’t the only one checking a list twice in December. After Kathy and I couldn’t find the names of a few priests on any clergy lists, we emailed the following question to the communications director for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“Under what circumstances would an archdiocesan priest’s name not appear on any archdiocesan website clergy list?”
That was sent on December 7th. We never received a reply from the archdiocese, but we got an answer from the Associated Press this past Sunday.
They just reported that about 45 accused priests do not appear on the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s list of those who are credibly accused.
The archdiocese said they were excluded for a variety of reasons, including deciding that about a dozen priests found unsuitable for ministry by a review board due to conduct involving minors did not do anything that rose to the level of abuse.
A spokesman said the archdiocese has a thorough and transparent investigation process, but declined to comment on any of the individual cases of priests not named on its list.”– Associated Press, Time, December 29th
If this was a laughing matter, their statements could inspire a late-night TV skit. “We have a transparent process, but we can’t comment on it.” Or, it could be a game…
Where’s Father Waldo?
In theory, you can find every diocesan priest with full faculties in the clergy directory on the Archdiocesan website. You won’t find the names of some religious order priests even though they make a vow of obedience to the same bishop. With that troubling shortcoming aside, it stands to reason that if you can’t find a diocesan priest’s name there, you’ll find it on another clergy list. There are additional lists linked on the Archdiocesan Office for Investigations page:
- Archdiocesan Clergy whose ministry has been restricted and faculties withdrawn due to credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor
- Archdiocesan Clergy laicized due to credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor
- Deceased Archdiocesan Clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor
But then again you might not. Many names don’t appear on any list.
To recap the AP findings, you won’t find at least 12 names on any list because those priests were permanently removed for boundary violations with a minor. Then there are those you won’t find for a “variety of reasons.” That answer is concerning to say the least.
And what about the late arrivals to the list? Father Michael Chapman was laicized in 2014 and Father John Paul was laicized in 2015. Neither was added to the list until 2018. Our Church leaders are expert at delaying and obscuring the truth.
M.I.A. Across the USA
This isn’t just a Philly problem. The AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served.
More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography. On top of that, the AP found another nearly 400 priests and clergy members who were accused of abuse while serving in dioceses that have not yet released any names.”
What’s the motivation for no lists, incomplete lists and late additions. The AP article shares an example that could point to one possible reason. A religious order settled civil claims related a priest accused of molestation and inappropriate behavior with children from three different states. Yet, that priest’s name does not appear on any Church list of credibly accused clergy members. But his name is on a list posted by a lawyer who represents church sexual abuse victims. That’s where another victim saw the priest’s name and criminal charges were finally filed.
It’s harder for justice to come calling if these priests are “unlisted.” It seems that once again, Church leadership is hiding information to avoid possible legal ramifications. Meanwhile, credibly accused priests who have been removed or laicized live anonymously among children.
Please read the important details in: “Hundreds of Accused Priests, Clergy Members Left Off Catholic Church’s Sex Abuse Lists,” by Claudia Later and Meghan Hoyer of the Associated Press, Time, Dec. 29
Read what Philadelphia Catholics had to say about the article: ‘Absolutely disgusting’: Catholics in Philadelphia react to the latest child sex-abuse scandal, by Wendy Ruderman, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 29