AP Reveals Catholic Church’s Big Sin of Omission

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:

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. 

Unlisted

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

8 thoughts on “AP Reveals Catholic Church’s Big Sin of Omission

  1. Msgr Frances Ferret isn’t on any of these lists, although he was supposedly removed from ministry by Chaput back in May of 2012. He raped me about 80-100 times between 1970-1972. I was told he was removed & now I’m feeling just a little angry to find he might be allowed to be near children, even after I was told by the archdiocese he would have zero contact. I’m pretty frantic right now, what can I do??

    1. Andrew – This is very common. Abusers are quickly moved out of reach of law enforcement and then allowed to abuse others in a new parish. Fr Michael Ledoux was creditably accused as headmaster of a catholic elementary school in Derry NH in the1990. Survivors were assured as part of a civil settlement he would be removed from contact with children. He resurfaced a few years later as the dean of students at Widner University in Philadelphia. He had just completed an effort to bring a k – 6th-grade charter school on campus. The local news picked up his history of abuse and he quickly resigned and went into hiding. I wonder where he is today?

    2. Andy, Fr Feret was removed for a violation of the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. He would technically be one of the dozen of unlisted priests referenced in the article. A few others removed by Chaput for violations of the Standards also do not appear anywhere on the archdiocesan site, Fr David Givey ,Fr John Bowe, Fr George Cadwallader…..
      We have not heard of Feret surfacing anywhere within the Archdiocese parishes or schools since he was removed. I am sorry that these articles, such as the Associated Press, that are very good at exposing the lack of transparency, also stirs up the emotions associated when someone is directly affected.

      1. Kathy, thanks for the info…..really thought I was past being triggered by news like this, but clearly it continues to effect me. As always I thank you & Susan for your continued support.

    1. It might also go some way towards explaining why so many people are willing to thumb their noses at Church teachings on morality. I do try not to judge those people, because it is hypocritical of the Church to preach against abortion, euthanasia or same sex marriage if they protect pedophiles, but being no better than anyone else, I find it hard not to.

  2. Those stained glass Windows you’re hiding behind never let in the sun.It seems the more transparent the Church claims it is going to be,the more it continues to hide.I don’t believe they know what transparency looks like.Another important story is the pay to play criminal conspiracy by Bishop Bransfield and Cardinal McCarrick.Both were making large financial donations to other members of the Hierarchy ,many of whom were involved in the Investigations of the sexual abuse of Catholic children.Even two popes received money from McCarrick. As they say in the world of corrupt politics,follow the money.

  3. A long-time Sexual Abuse Advocate once told me, in almost every case he had reviewed with clusters of sexual abusers in the church, there was always an element of financial fraud to support the lifestyle. The financial fraud, as with the child sexual abuse was most often not reported to law enforcement. This Advocate stated that financial frauds and the sexual abuse worked hand and hand to create an honor ring that protected all from exposure. Hidden behind the protection of Vatican laws, layers of charitable trust, and corporations controlled by the church, these crimes are buried from sight. The reform of the statute of limitation laws and the resulting increase in public awareness may help provide the political will power for governments to act to protect their children and families. Good Catholic whistleblowers could save lives and jump-start the process to save the church.

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