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A list of clerics, priests and deacons, who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, was released by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island on July 1, 2019. The list was released on the diocese website and it includes 19 people who are still alive; although nearly all have been removed from ministry, together with 25 dead priests. Of the 50 names, 48 are listed as credibly accused and two deceased clergy members are listed as publicly accused. Before posting this list the Diocese reviewed data back to 1950.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) reacted to the list and the attorney general's office is already reviewing allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. According to The Associated Press News, SNAP said in a statement that it hopes the release of this information will lead to safer, more informed communities and that survivors will be encouraged to come forward to make a report. Meanwhile it asked Thomas Tobin, the Bishop of Providence, to update the list with full work histories of each accused priest to inform communities where abusers served. SNAP also called on Rhode Island’s attorney general to independently investigate.
More than 140 religious orders and dioceses have released similar lists and more than 100 of those lists were released or updated after a Pennsylvania grand jury report in August. Those releases may help abuse victims to feel more secure and possibly come forward. That is why transparency is very important. On the list released by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, there are dozens of names that weren't publicly known before and their victims may realize that they are not alone. “There are probably victims sitting at home that will realize for the first time that they’re not the only victim and possibly come forward,” Ann Hagan Webb (a former New England coordinator for SNAP) said according to The Associated Press News. “That’s what my fight has always been about, to take survivors out of isolation and expose the names of perpetrators so they can’t hurt someone else.”
But there is also a question why the list isn't longer. Hagan Webb referenced a 2007 court document in a clergy sex abuse case which states that the number of accused priests in the diocese files was about 125, which was reduced to 95 by excluding priests who were not alleged to have committed sexual assaults as previously defined by the court. Obviously, 95 is way more than 50; yet the list contains only 50 names. That is why the best thing to do is to rely on independent officials who will perform the investigation. This is the best way to get full transparency.