Yesterday, August 25th, the Archdiocese of Boston issued a list which contained the names of those among the Archdiocesan clergy who had either been found guilty of abusing children, or have had credible accusations of abusing children. The list has been posted on the Archdiocesan website, with a cover letter from Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston. In that letter, Cardinal Sean describes the process used in creating the list, who was included on the list, who was not included on the list and the reasons why they were not.
The Boston news media, including Boston.com, reported on the issuance of the list and the reactions of various parties who have been involved in the effort to bring the clergy abuse scandal to light, and to prevent any such abuse from happening again. The reactions of some Massachusetts politicians, local advocates for sex abuse victims, and church reformers were not positive.
The truth of the matter is that no matter what Cardinal Sean did, he would not have been able to satisfy everyone. One faction would say he did not go far enough, that there are additional names that should have been released. The other faction would say that Cardinal Sean went too far, that he sacrificed the reputations of priests to satisfy a vengeance hungry mob. I have read what I feel is two good analysis’s of Cardinal Sean’s actions, one by Michael Sean Winters, the other by John Allen, Jr., both columnists and bloggers for the National Catholic Reporter.
I belong to the Archdiocese of Boston, and like many local Catholics, I was upset and angry when the scandal first broke so many years ago. I angry over the fact that there were priests who abusing children, I became angrier when I learned that these acts were being covered up by the bishops. It has been because of the cover up that advocates of the abused want all the names of accused priests made public. I have been uncomfortable with this demand. I am one of those people who believe in the legal ideal that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. I understand the need many feel to bring to light all those who may have abused children, but is the price worth it if at least one innocent priest’s reputation is destroyed forever.
Beginning with the Dallas Charter, I do believe that there have been good faith efforts by many American bishops to prevent future child abuse by clergy, and to bring to light those who have abused in the past, Cardinal Sean being one of them.