Last weekend at St. Rose I made an important announcement about sexual abuse and our Catholic Church. Sexual abuse is a scourge on our society and, as we know so well, our Church is not immune to it. Even priests have committed crimes of abuse against vulnerable people and leaders in the Church with authority to stop the abuse often failed to do so. The most famous example of this was the Archdiocese of Boston, which was brought to light in early 2002. (Click here for our post on the film Spotlightwhich tells the story of the Archdiocese of Boston from the perspective of the Boston Globe reporters)
Priests in our own Archdiocese also committed crimes of sexual abuse against vulnerable people. Recently, the Archdiocese of Seattle released a list of priests and religious men and women (monks and nuns) who are believed to have committed crimes. Some of these names are being made public for the first time. You can click here to see the list on the Archdiocese of Seattle’s website, as well as a letter from Archbishop Sartain and some answers to frequently asked questions about this list.
You will notice that there are priests on this list who served in our area. St. Rose had three priests on the list who all served in Longview between 1950 and 1965. Their names should be familiar to many of our older parishioners. Their names are Edward Boyle, Lawrence Low, and Jerome Dooley. All three have passed away. I have already had people come to me in sadness, saying that they are stunned that this occurred. If you are among those who are sad or upset about this, I am available to listen to your concerns.
St. Mary’s in Castle Rock also had three priests who show up on the list, and who served much more recently. They are Dermot Foyle, John Marsh, and David Linehan. Of these three, Marsh has passed away, Linehan is currently living a life of prayer and penance, and Foyle’s whereabouts are unknown. I would like to apologize to the members of St. Mary’s that I was not able to be there to announce this to you personally like I was at St. Rose.
One thing to keep in mind about this list is that it is not clear whether or not any abuse actually occurred in our parishes. It is also not clear how many people were abused. If you were abused by one of these priests I’d like to encourage you to come forward. You can either contact the police directly or you can call the Archdiocese of Seattle abuse hotline at 800-446-7762.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone that it is the job of the entire Church to protect vulnerable people from abuse. We offer our Safe Environment course a couple of times a year and its purpose is to train everyone in our community to recognize the behavior of potential abusers. Even if you aren’t a volunteer at our parish this class has value. It can help you keep your family safe, and any place that you happen to be safe.
We are offering this class on Sunday, January 31st at 1pm. You can register by clicking here. Please call us if you have any registration problems. Even if you are not a member of our parish and would like to take this class you are most welcome to. I know that it will benefit you and it will protect people you care about.
Thank you for taking this issue seriously and for working to make our parishes and schools a safe place for all people.
Here are the answers to Frequently Asked Questions about this list and Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese.
1. Why are you publishing this list?
This disclosure is being made in the interest of further transparency and accountability, and to continue to encourage victim survivors of sexual abuse by those working on behalf of the Church to come forward.
2. Who made the decision to publish the list?
The decision was made by Archbishop Sartain after consultation with and recommendation by the Archdiocesan Review Board.
3. How was the list developed?
To identify those archdiocesan clergy and religious men and women who served or were known to have resided in the Archdiocese of Seattle for whom allegations of sexual abuse of minors were admitted, established or determined to be credible, the archdiocese hired Dr. Kathleen McChesney and her firm, Kinsale Management Consulting, to conduct an independent review of Archdiocesan files. The names of those identified in this review were then provided to the Archdiocesan Review Board (member information may be found at the following link: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/SEP/About.aspx ) and to Archbishop Sartain who approved the publication of the names set forth in this disclosure.
4. Does the published list contain all of the names of clergy and religious brothers and sisters that Kinsale Management and the Archdiocesan Review Board determined were credible?
5. How does the archdiocese respond to those persons making allegations of child sexual abuse by Church personnel?
In every case, the archdiocese offers to pay for counseling for the person making the allegation, as well as for family members, if it is desired. The archdiocese has paid approximately $580,000 January 15, 2016 for counseling over the last 10 years. In addition, in every case, the archbishop offers a pastoral meeting to apologize on behalf of the church and to assist in the healing process.
6. What does the term “determined to be credible” mean?
When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Church personnel is received, the first step is to determine whether the incident(s) could have taken place as described. For example, if an allegation is received that a priest abused a minor in Vancouver in 1950, but that priest never served in Vancouver and was not ordained until 1960, this particular allegation could not be accurate. If, on the other hand, the incident(s) could have taken place as described, the Archdiocesan Review Board, whose members act as independent advisors to the archbishop, makes a determination as to whether the accusation is credible. In arriving at this determination, they take into account a number of factors including whether there are similar allegations, a credible statement of the complainant, corroborating evidence or testimony, and the accused’s admission of guilt, if applicable.
7. In addition to offering pastoral care and payment for counseling, what other steps does the archdiocese take when an allegation of abuse of a minor is received?
If the allegation has a semblance of truth, law enforcement is notified and the accused is placed on administrative leave. The archdiocese cooperates fully with any law enforcement investigation. At the conclusion of any law enforcement investigation, the archdiocese may also hire an independent investigator to conduct a separate investigation (unless the allegation has already been established by law enforcement or admitted by the accused). The results of the investigation(s) are presented to the Archdiocesan Review Board for a determination of the credibility of the allegation and to make a recommendation to the Archbishop. The Archbishop arrives at a decision based upon the investigation and the Board’s recommendation. If the allegation is determined to be credible, the accused is removed permanently from ministry. If the accused is a priest, he is placed on permanent prayer and penance or laicized in a process through the Vatican.
8. What does “permanent prayer and penance” status mean?
A priest is placed on permanent prayer and penance through a canonical process authorized by the Vatican. This status applies to a priest permanently removed from all public ministry while still remaining a priest. He is not permitted to administer sacraments, wear clerical attire, or present himself publicly as a priest. He is asked to pray for healing and to do penance on behalf of those who have been abused. A priest in this category is regularly visited by a compliance monitor with professional expertise in monitoring of this type.
9. What does “laicized” mean?
A “laicized” priest or deacon has been removed from the clerical state and returned to the status of a lay person. He is no longer considered to be a priest or deacon. “Laicization” is a canonical process through the Vatican.
10. What is the definition of a minor for the purposes of this list?
Anyone under the age of 18.
11. Do individuals on this list receive financial support?
Yes, some of the individuals on this list receive some financial support from the archdiocese. Priests and laicized priests of the archdiocese who have earned a pension are legally entitled to those benefits. Archdiocesan priests on permanent prayer and penance status are also included in the priest health plan. Individuals on this list who are not, or were not, priests of the archdiocese do not receive any financial support from the archdiocese.
12. How much has the archdiocese paid out in settlements, and where has that money come from?
Since the late 1980’s, approximately $74 million has been paid out in settlements for 392 claims of sexual abuse of minors. Settlements that were made directly with survivors, as well as those resulting from litigation, are included in this number. These payments have come from insurance carriers, the archdiocese’s self-insurance plan, and the sale of archdiocesan held property.
13. What steps has the archdiocese taken to prevent sexual abuse of minors by church personnel?
The Archdiocese of Seattle has a Safe Environment Program with policies and procedures designed to prevent and recognize signs of sexual abuse of minors (www.seattlearchdiocese.org/SEP). The archdiocese has been conducting criminal background checks of clergy, religious, and lay employees and volunteers who have ongoing unsupervised access to minors through church activities since 1989. Since 1990, these individuals have also been required to undergo training to recognize and respond to potential signs of sexual abuse of minors.