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Boston cardinal names abuse suspects

— Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s action, a gesture of openess, has been criticised over omissions

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston last week released an online list of the names of priests in the archdiocese who have been accused of sex abuse within the last 60 years.

The names of 159 accused priests were released on the archdiocesan website last Thursday and compiled into lists including priests who have been found guilty of abuse, those with pending allegations, those accused and then defrocked and priests now deceased.

Explaining his decision to release the names, Cardinal O’Malley said that the archdiocese is ‘continually evaluating its policies and practices to ensure that our child protection and abuse prevention efforts are further strengthened.’

“Consistent with that effort, I have studied suggestions that we enhance the present archdiocesan policy with respect to sharing information about clergy accused of sexually abusing minors,” Cardinal O’Malley said last week.

“Having met with hundreds of survivors, I know first hand the scars you carry. And I carry with me every day the pain of the Church’s failures.”

Names omitted

Cardinal O’Malley said that although 248 of Boston’s priests and two deacons have been accused of child sex abuse since 1950, he decided against releasing 91 of the names.

These included deceased priests who were not publicly accused, those working in Boston under religious orders or other dioceses and those accused in unsubstantiated accusations that never went public.

Also not included on the list are any members of religious orders accused of sexually abusing minors outside the archdiocese, since the archdiocese ‘does not determine the outcome in such cases.’

In explaining his decision not to include 91 of the names, Cardinal O’Malley said: “Not only must the archdiocese honour its commitment to protect children, it must also be mindful of the due process concerns of those whose guilt has not been established.”


Cardinal O’Malley’s omissions did, however, come under fire from some corners, with Attorney General Martha Coakley saying that the other names ‘should be disclosed in the interest of the victims and public safety.’

“While today was an important first step, we urge the leaders of the archdiocese to complete this effort toward transparency and publicly disclose the names of those accused from other orders and those who were already laicised,” Ms Coakley said.

Cardinal O’Malley compiled the list—which he said would be amended as more allegations of clergy abuse are investigated and settled—after reviewing all of the abuse allegations in the files of the archdiocese, some going back as many as 70 years

“My deepest hope and prayer is that the efforts I am announcing today will provide some additional comfort and healing for those who have suffered from sexual abuse by clergy and will continue to strengthen our efforts to protect God’s children,” the cardinal said.

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