Ohio Dioceses to Release Abusive Priests Lists

Photo credit: WOSU Public Media

In the wake of an extensive Pennsylvania grand jury report that provided the information about more than 300 priests under sexual abuse allegations, the Ohio dioceses plans to release new lists of priests who have been removed from parishes because of sexual abuse and misconduct allegations. Some of Ohio's six Roman Catholic dioceses, including The Catholic Diocese of Columbus and Steubenville's diocese, made the announcement that they would release their list. This announcement came several weeks after the Youngstown diocese made a similar announcement. The lists are supposed to include the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of abuse, whether they are living or dead.

In 2002, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops approved a zero-tolerance policy called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in the midst of a national scandal over the church’s failure to address — and in some cases, cover up — sexual abuse and misconduct by priests. The policy requires dioceses to alert authorities when they learn of abuse allegations, conduct their own investigations and remove accused priests from their duties during such reviews.

“The Diocese of Columbus understands this is an important step to restore the confidence of our faithful in their church and its clergy,” a diocese spokesman said as apnews.com reports. Steubenville diocesan officials and attorneys will review files dating back to its formation in 1944, spokesman Dino Orsatti said. He estimated that a list would include 12 to 20 names. The diocese is the smallest in Ohio with 34,000 members. Orsatti said Tuesday that Bishop Jeffrey Monforton wants the list released in the interest of transparency and accountability. “He would welcome any investigation like the one in Pennsylvania,” Orsatti said, according to apnews.com.

The rest of the dioceses in Ohio stated that they previously released the names of priests who have been removed from parishes because of sexual abuse and misconduct allegations, but it is not completely clear how far back those lists reach. Also, some of those lists omit the names of those who have died in the meantime.

The Diocese of Cleveland, which is Ohio’s largest with nearly 700,000 members, was under a month’s long grand jury investigation similar to Pennsylvania’s in 2002, and it posted a list of twenty-two priests who were accused of child sex abuse. Seven additional names were added to that list since then. Prosecutors in Cleveland never produced a report about the grand jury’s findings like the one that was produced and published in Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Cleveland is now the fourth diocese that will publish a list of abusive priests. They are planning to release the names of abusive priests even if they are now dead.

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