It’s yet another aftershock in the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
In what appears to be a show of good faith, the Washington, D.C. archdiocese released the names of 31 priests who’ve been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.
It comes just days after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Washington’s Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Wuerl had been under pressure by victims’ groups after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report over the summer, revealing more than 300 abusive priests and more than 1,000 victims.
Wuerl is accused of covering up for priests while heading the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 to 2006.
Wuerl also is embroiled in the scandal of his predecessor in D.C., ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned after allegations of sexual abuse of at least one minor and several seminarians. Wuerl has denied any knowledge of McCarrick’s long history of abuse.
The Washington D.C. list of abusive priests goes back 70 years, from 1948 to 1996. Eighteen of the priests had been arrested, 13 were never arrested, 17 now are deceased.
The archdiocese did not list the number of victims or the nature of the complaints.
In a press release, Wuerl said, “This list is a painful reminder of the grave sins committed by clergy, the pain inflicted on innocent young people, and the harm done to the church’s faithful, for which we continue to seek forgiveness.”
The archdiocese also said there are no priests accused of abuse currently in active ministry.
But the reaction from victims has not been so forgiving.
David Lorenz, a clergy abuse survivor and the director of the victim advocacy group, SNAP, claimed the list cannot possibly be complete.
“You compare that number 31 to the diocese of Pittsburgh, for instance, which has 99,” Lorenz said. “They had 99 abusive priests. And they are a smaller diocese than the diocese of Washington.”
Lorenz said there have been six investigations in six different dioceses.
“Every one of them have shown that the diocese underreported the number of abusive priests, significantly,” Lorenz said.
The Washington Archdiocese said there have been no new allegations against a priest in two decades, and that it was one of the first “dioceses in the country to adopt a written Child Protection Policy,” with a Case Review Board since 1993.
The Washington Archdiocese is the latest of nearly 60 dioceses and archdioceses in the United States, since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, to release the names of priests accused of sexual abuse.
Pressure is growing for more to release names and launch own investigations.