New database documents Irish clergy linked to sex abuse

Pope Francis leaves his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the end of the Angelus noon prayer at the Vatican on August 19, 2018. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

DUBLIN (AP) — An international research group launched a database Monday of Irish clergy convicted or credibly accused of sexually abusing children in hopes of pressing Pope Francis to disclose the names of all the priests and brothers deemed guilty by the church.
 
BishopAccountability.org says the online database unveiled Monday shows the degree to which information still remains hidden in Ireland. The list was released before the pontiff's visit to Ireland on Saturday.

BishopAccountability issued a similar report on the eve of Francis' visit to Chile in January, identifying dozens of credibly accused clergy and the bishops who covered up for them. That trip turned disastrous for the pope when he discredited several Chilean victims, although he subsequently did an about-face and apologized to the victims and sanctioned complicit bishops.

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"Hiding the names of credibly accused child molesters puts children at risk, withholds validation from survivors, and makes it nearly impossible for Catholic laypeople to protect their families or hold church leaders accountable," co-director Anne Barrett Doyle said.

The Massachusetts-based group seeks to compile every publicly available document and report on the child abuse crisis in the church to hold bishops accountable for shielding abusers from punishment.

The group's list was issued even as the pope condemned the crime of priestly sexual abuse in a letter Monday to Catholics around the world — a move that came in response to new revelations in the United States of decades of misconduct. Hiding the names of credibly accused child molesters puts children at risk, withholds validation from survivors, and makes it nearly impossible for Catholic laypeople to protect their families or hold church leaders accountable."

Although Francis begged forgiveness for the pain suffered by abuse victims, Barrett Doyle said the pope needed to act, since survivors are insulted and made impatient by words alone. "There's such a disconnect with what Pope Frances says and what he does in reforming the Catholic Church," she told reporters at a news conference in Dublin. "He could make zero tolerance more than just a slogan."

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