Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, has ordered the publication of the names of priests accused of sex abuse. Previously he’d said the names would only be released after the Vatican heard their cases and elected to discipline them.
The bishop said at a press conference Saturday at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor that because it was taking the Vatican so long to act, he had become increasingly concerned about the potential risk of a re-offense in the cases of former priests who had not been identified to the public.
That fear became a reality last year for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del., when a 77-year-old priest removed from ministry in 1993 but whose name had not been made public was arrested in Syracuse, N.Y., on charges of sexually abusing a boy there over a five-year period.
“Because of that, I have consulted at length with my advisers,” Malone said, ” and I am now convinced that the time has come to release the names of the remaining priests who were removed from ministry due to abuse allegations, whose offenses were admitted or sufficiently established.”
So it’s not every accused priest, but those who have admitted wrongdoing or where the evidence is “sufficiently established,” whatever that means.
Of course some people are never happy and that includes Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) who said the diocese should have released information about where the men are living. Malone said law-enforcement agencies in the communities where the men are living now have been notified.
“The church is not a sex abuse registry as is the state,” he said. “The church has its way of proceeding and the state has its way, and I don’t think there’s any law enforcement agency that would release the names and addresses of people who have been accused but have not been convicted of crimes. Some of them have been accused but not convicted.”