The Catholic diocese of San Diego openly identified eight more priests accused of sexual misconduct in an effort to display transparency after Pennsylvania’s abuse report.
The diocese added the eight priests to a roster of clerics believed to have sexually preyed on minors. The list was created in 2007 during a landmark legal case in which the diocese settled 144 claims of child sexual abuse by 48 priests and one lay employee, resulting in the second largest settlement that a U.S. diocese has ever payed out. (RELATED: Catholic Lawmakers Urge Church To ‘Cleanse’ Sex Abuse Problem With ‘Total Transparency’)
Of those added to the roster, one priest’s whereabouts are unknown, several are dead and at least one continues to operate in ministry, albeit outside the authority of the Catholic church.
“This is a response to the terrible moment we are in,” Bishop Robert McElroy said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
McElroy referenced Pennsylvania’s grand jury report on sexual abuse, which identified more than 300 predator priests in six dioceses, as well as the allegations of sexual abuse against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
“The cascade of emotions that this causes the survivors of the abuse, as well as other people in the pews, has caused a tumult of anger, grief, upset, incomprehension, disillusionment,” he added.
McElroy asserted that the public naming of these alleged predator priests — the Revs. Jose Chavarin, Raymond Etienne, J. Patrick Foley, Michael French, Richard Houck, George Lally and Paolino Montagna, and Msgr. Mark Medaer — came in response to the public call for more transparency from the Catholic church.
He added that the new names had simply been overlooked, due to the church’s past inefficiencies in record-keeping.
Abuse survivors and victims advocates lauded the naming of the suspected predator priests as a step in the right direction, though some claimed that the church was simply trying to protect itself.
“Some dioceses are trying to do proactive disclosures, which is great — disclosures are super important,” said Tim Lennon, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “But it’s not because of the goodness of their hearts. They want to protect themselves as much as they can.”
Esther Miller, SNAP’s Southern California liaison, echoed that sentiment.
Others, like Patrick Wall, a former priest who investigates sexual abuse cases, believe there are far more predatory priests than have been revealed publicly.
“They’re telling me that there are now 56 priests who are credibly accused of sexual abuse in San Diego? I believe that number to be extremely short,” he said.
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