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29 December 2019 - 08:51
News ID: 448162
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The US Catholic Church has been accused by victim advocates of not releasing the names of all priests accused of child sexual abuse, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press.

RNA - The AP analysis published on Saturday found more than 900 clergy members accused of sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses they served.

Despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.

The AP said it calculated that figure by matching those public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.

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, the AP said.

Additionally, 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.

“No one should think, ‘Oh, the bishops are releasing their lists, there’s nothing left to do,’” said Terence McKiernan, co-founder of BishopAccountability.org, who has been tracking the abuse crisis and cataloging accused priests for almost two decades, accumulating a database of thousands of priests.

“There are a lot of holes in these lists,” he said. “There’s still a lot to do to get to actual, true transparency.”

Church officials say that releasing the names of priests who have not admitted guilt and may have been falsely accused will harm their reputation, and also opens the possibility of lawsuits against the church from priests who maintain their innocence.

The AP said that some Catholic dioceses have left out entire categories of clergy members from their lists, including priests who have deceased, those who have only one allegation against them and priests ordained in foreign countries.

The AP found the archdiocese in Boston, Massachusetts, has the most accused priests left off its list, with almost 80 not included.

Since the first high-profile abuse allegations against Catholic priests emerged in 2002 in Boston, many similar cases have rocked the Church, and 2018 brought another wave of such charges.

The credibility of the Catholic Church hierarchy sank last year after new reports of old sexual abuse and cover-up were uncovered in the US, Chile and elsewhere and implicated Pope Francis himself.

Victims and advocates say the church should be transparent about investigations when allegations are received, arguing that trust in the church can be restored only if bishops are completely forthcoming.

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