Jesuits in the western part of the United States will release the names of all members of the religious order in that region with “credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors” dating back to 1950, Scott Santarosa, S.J., the provincial of the region, announced in a letter on Friday.
“While the Church in the U.S. has experienced significant reform in this area, we are now called to deepen that reform by becoming more transparent,” Father Santarosa wrote. “In issuing this list and calling for an independent review, we hope to offer victims and their families a step forward in the healing process.”
The list will be released on Dec. 7 and the province will conduct an external review of its files to ensure it is complete.
According to the announcement, the list will be released on Dec. 7 and the province will conduct an external review of its files to ensure the list is complete. There are five provinces in the United States.
The region covered under Friday’s announcement is comprised of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
“I think 2018 is a moment when the people of God are both demanding and deserving of transparency,” Father Santarosa told America. “The question now, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, really is one of trust. Can we trust that the church is actually taking care of this issue and keeping people safe? One sign of trust is asking if leaders can be transparent.”
He said the decision to make a list public was done in consultation with the heads of the other four U.S. provinces.
“We’re all going in the same direction, we just have different timetables.”
“We’re all going in the same direction, we just have different timetables,” he said.
As for announcing the decision to release a list a month before making it public, Father Santarosa said there is an immense amount of data to sort through and he added that the province is working with Jesuit schools, parishes and other institutions that may be affected by the release of the names.
“They feel they need this data to be credible with their constituents, their alumni, their parents, their students and their parishioners,” he said.
He said that no Jesuit on the list of credibly accused priests is in active ministry and that people should know that Jesuit institutions are safe, thanks in part to safeguards instituted following the 2002 wave of abuse revelations. But he conceded that the publication of the list may bring forward more victims—and open up the order to more lawsuits.
“That’s part of the risk of doing this. You don’t know what this will bring,” he said. “We just felt like it’s the right thing to do.”
The Jesuits have previously settled hundreds of abuse claims in that part of the country.
The Jesuits have previously settled hundreds of abuse claims in that part of the country, including in 2011, when the order settled about 500 physical and sexual abuse claims for more than $166 million, one of the largest settlements in the U.S. church’s ongoing abuse crisis.
That settlement covered cases concentrated in Alaska and Oregon, mostly involving Native Americans and Alaska natives who were abused at church-run boarding schools in the 1960s and 1970s. That settlement was on top of previous settlements in that region totaling more than $84 million.
Law enforcement in at least 10 states are investigating Catholic dioceses over how they handled cases of abuse by priests. In a few instances, dioceses have decided to release the names of accused priests before being forced to by investigators. But in some cases, the names of priests who are members of religious orders have been omitted from lists made public by diocesan leaders.
Father Santarosa urged victims of sexual abuse by a Jesuit to report their claims to the province’s victim’s advocacy coordinator, Mary Pat Panighetti, as well as to law enforcement.
“On behalf of the Society of Jesus, I apologize to victims and their families,” he wrote. “There is no greater betrayal of pastoral care than the abuse of a minor by someone with a sacred duty to protect and care for the People of God.”