National Database of Accused Priests Goes Live

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 30, 2020   

But dozens of dioceses aren't releasing information

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new database lists nearly 6,000 Catholic priests around the country deemed "credibly accused" of sexual abuse.

ProPublica, an investigative nonprofit news organization, published the interactive database on Tuesday.

Journalists at ProPublica spent months putting together the database, using the lists of credibly accused clergy provided by many U.S. dioceses and religious orders.

The new database includes more than 6,700 entries from credibly accused lists published by Church officials, representing about 5,800 individuals.

However, some dioceses still have not put out lists of clergy accused of abuse.

ProPublica included a map showing which U.S. dioceses have and haven't released a credibly accused list. (The map cannot account for entities like religious orders and Eastern Catholic eparchies, which are listed separately.)

While the majority of dioceses have published lists of the accused, there are dozens of dioceses that have not — including a number of dioceses in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Florida and California.

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ProPublica's map shows which U.S. dioceses have and have
not released a list of priests "credibly accused" of sexual abuse

"Forty-one dioceses and eparchies covering over 9 million Catholics in the United States still have not released lists," ProPublica noted. "This includes over 1.5 million Catholics across Florida, as well as those in major metropolitan areas such as Fresno, California and San Francisco."

ProPublica pointed to flaws in the existing "credibly accused" lists:

Many dioceses publish insufficient information for victims, let alone the public, to understand with any certainty the scope or details of abuse. And perpetrators of abuse who often fall outside the scope of most disclosures, such as nuns and brothers, as well as priests who abused vulnerable adults, are still only rarely included in the data dioceses report publicly.

ProPublica also noted, "Each diocese and religious order sets its own standard for determining the credibility of allegations."

The push to publish lists of credibly accused clergy began after the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which listed sexual abuse allegations against 300 clergy and religious across six of Pennsylvania's eight Catholic dioceses.

In the months following the [Pennsylvania grand jury] report, more than 100 dioceses and religious orders released documents online naming credibly accused priests.

ProPublica states, "In the months following the [Pennsylvania grand jury] report, more than 100 dioceses and religious orders released documents online naming credibly accused priests."

The Pennsylvania grand jury report also inspired state lawmakers to pay more attention to clerical sex abuse. Numerous state attorneys general from around the country have worked toward launching probes into Catholic clerical sex abuse allegations and cover-ups by Church leaders. Among states considering or undergoing an abuse probe are Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, Maryland, Vermont and Michigan — to name just a few.

Many say the credibly accused lists are a step in the right direction. But some dioceses have been criticized for omitting abusers' names, or for including names of priests who some say were falsely accused.

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