More Jesuit provinces announce plans to release list of accused priests

Supporter of S.N.A.P., Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, walk in memory of alleged abuse victim outside the Nov 12 assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Kevin J. Parks, Catholic Review) Supporter of S.N.A.P., Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, walk in memory of alleged abuse victim outside the Nov 12 assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Kevin J. Parks, Catholic Review) 

Following the announcement earlier this month that Jesuits in the western part of the United States will release a list of credibly accused priests and brothers on Dec. 7, two more provinces, which cover most of the middle and southern parts of the United States, will follow suit.

“We take this step in the spirit of transparency and reconciliation,” Brian Paulson, S.J., the provincial of the Midwest Province, said in a press release. “As we look back at our history, the failures of the Church and the Society of Jesus to protect those entrusted to its care fill our hearts with outrage, sorrow and shame. On behalf of the Midwest Jesuits, I sincerely apologize to victims and their families for the harm and suffering you have endured. Many have suffered in silence for decades. Our concern and prayers are with the victim-survivors and we hope and pray that this step will strengthen the trust of those we serve.”

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The Midwest Province will publish its list on Dec. 17 and will update it following further investigations.

The Midwest Province will publish its list on Dec. 17 and will update it following further investigations.

Meanwhile, Ronald A. Mercier, S.J., who leads the Central and Southern Province, said in a separate statement released on Monday, “The People of God deserve transparency from the leadership of the Church.”

The Central and Southern Province has contracted a firm headed by a former F.B.I. executive to compile a comprehensive report, which will include allegations dating back to 1960. A spokeswoman for the province told America in an email sent Tuesday morning that the audit will consist of “a review of the files of men who entered, died or were dismissed after 1959. Therefore, it will include allegations that predate 1960.” The province will publish a preliminary list on Dec. 7 but said the final report will not be available the spring of 2019.

“It is my hope that through the publication of this information, we can work to rebuild trust, always with the well-being of victims in mind,” Father Mercier added. “On behalf of the Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern Province, I apologize to the victims for the pain caused by Jesuits in the past.” (Father Mercier serves on the board of America Media.)

Father Paulson said that he anticipates that some of the names on the list will already have been known publicly.

The Central and Southern Province covers Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, southern Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma as well as Puerto Rico and the Central American country of Belize. The Midwest Province is comprised of most of Illinois, as well as Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Of the two remaining provinces, the Maryland Province is expected to make a similar announcement “soon,” a spokesman told America, while the Northeast Province is “reviewing files and determining how best to release information regarding allegations of abuse.” (The Maryland and Northeast Provinces are in the process of merging.)

Father Paulson said that he anticipates that some of the names on the list will already have been known publicly, through media reports, court records or lists released by dioceses. But he said in an effort to be transparent, the Midwest Province decided, in consultation with Jesuits in Rome and other U.S. provincials, to release a list of credibly accused priests dating back to 1955.

Jesuits in the Midwest and Central and Southern Provinces have not been immune to the church’s ongoing sexual abuse crisis.

In 2013, court records revealed that Jesuits in Chicago concealed abusive priests in the 1960s and 1970s, including Donald J. McGuire, a one-time Jesuit who in 2009 was sentenced to 25 years in prison for molesting a minor. Those revelations resulted in a settlement of $19.6 million with six men. In 2015, the Society settled a case for $925,000 with a man who claimed he was abused at a suburban Chicago Jesuit high school in the 1970s by Donald O’Shaughnessy, S.J., who died in 2013.

Earlier this year, revelations that Jesuits in New Orleans settled cases in the early 2000s involving allegations of sexual abuse that took place decades ago, including at a Jesuit high school, prompting church leaders there to seek forgiveness.

Correction (Nov. 19,11:50 p.m.): This story has been updated to say that some of the names that will be included on the list from the Midwest Province will already have been publicly known. An earlier version incorrectly said that most would be known.

Update (Nov. 20, 11:30 a.m.): This story has been updated with a statement from the Central and Southern Province.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
sheila gray
2 weeks 6 days ago

Thank you. I have never been hurt by a Jesuit in any way. My abuser is a nun. My 49-year nightmare will never go away, but the sincere sorrow expressed throughout this statement is palpable. I believe you. And it helps. I believe all survivors are the same in our desire to heal and begin to move beyond the crisis into the cure. We must all heal together. I know that now. But in the meantime, I am alerting everyone to the fact that survivors and victims are being triggered all over the place because clergy abuse is so prominent in the news now. It is a very dangerous time for us. People are suffering and, perhaps, dying. What is happening to me, and to many, I fear, is a re-experiencing of the original abuse. Please consider helping me and others establish a 24-hour National Clergy Abuse Crisis Line, staffed by Survivors and mental health professionals. I, personally, have made calls into Archdiocesan offices across the country in the last few months and have found that few have a Victims Advocate of any kind. All the women who staff these offices seem shocked and disturbed when a clergy abuse survivors calls, for whatever reason. They hem and haw and eventually put me through to someone who is no help at all. Many survivors are in a state of crisis. This is the sad truth. Do it right this time, please. Your words and actions are leading the way. But we need to do more together. NOW. A new day is dawning. Let’s walk out into the sunlight together.

rose-ellen caminer
2 weeks 6 days ago

What exactly was the initial abuse, and what is the actual suffering now? That you remember what was said, what was done?And so? Then what? Walk through the suffering then, and walk through the suffering now. What was it and what is it? "Re experiencing the original abuse," "triggering" "state of crisis",etc. ; all these are words and phrases that come from the mental health field .You are expressing a pattern put out there in the field of[ pop?] psychology. What is your crisis , what is your suffering, then and now? Come on Sheila , no one hates you, no one wants you to be suffering, then or now, No one is denying you have suffered at the hands of a nun, but speaking in memes taken from the field is not speaking your truth. What is your suffering concretely and truly? What is your actual crisis ?Only you know and only you can say and until you do you are not doing anything but nurturing your grudge[no offense].Your comfort zone.No one can take away anyone's past painful experience. So you are triggered? Be triggered. So you remember? Remember .And what of it?Then what? Memories of sufferings are sufferings. Ok.. We have suffering experience . And that's without being aware of all the horrific sufferings going on right now in the news or of those around you in our life . Be relieved that the ones in your memories are past.Be in solidarity to those whose sufferings are not past.Tell you a secret Sheila; when you live long enough, everything is a trigger , some good, a lot not so good. I'm not a Buddhist but they hit on something profound ; life is suffering..That's why our icon is a human being suffering on a cross. Our suffering is real AND it matters in the scheme of things; To God who shared in it and promises us salvation. There is only one Sheila made in God's image, who Jesus suffered and died on a cross to show you that your suffering matters to Him, and the sad truth is that you invested in living with a ready made identity and script, handed to you, to give purpose to your life for the rest of your life . You don't need to do that. We know you suffered in your past and are suffering. now . We are all in the same boat.

arthur mccaffrey
2 weeks 6 days ago

Ms. Caminer--this is a very cruel comment and should have been deleted by the moderator

Molly Roach
2 weeks 6 days ago

This comment indicates that you have absolutely no awareness of the realities of post traumatic stress syndrome. This is a brain injury associated with trauma and the overwhelming majority of survivors of sexual abuse suffer from it. And it is cruel to visit your ignorance about this on someone who is suffering from it. Do some research, grow in awareness and in compassion.

rose-ellen caminer
2 weeks 6 days ago

Go back to Commonweal. The insightful compassionate Jesuits are here ,See I know what PTSD is.[lol]Just kidding.

A Fielder
2 weeks 6 days ago

Rose-Ellen, you should delete your offensive comment. I pray Sheila will give it all the consideration it is due, which is none. None, what-so-ever!

The desire for wholeness and happiness is not one that a Buddhist meditation or Christian prayer can erase when we pretend there is no suffering. God suffers with us to give us the courage and hope to work for something better for ourselves and for others. Sheila has offered a valuable contribution toward this end, and you have offered an unhelpful and embarrassing distraction.

rose-ellen caminer
2 weeks 6 days ago

I am sorry you all feel that way about my comment.It was not cruel and I did not say that we should not try to stop suffering .You totally misunderstood what I said about Buddhism and suffering A, Fielder.[ I must be a terrible writer]. I am not the one pretending there is no suffering .I brought up todays injustices and sufferings to Sheila . I too said God suffers with us. I said the Buddhist perspective got ONE thing right; that life is suffering, but I took the Christian perspective that [unlike the Buddhist], suffering is NOT an illusion. It is central[ the cross] and profound; our suffering is so concerning to the good God that Christ intercedes and suffers in solidarity with us to overcome this evil and to promise us eternal non suffering salvation for which we were made for. If our suffering is concerning to God , our fellow human beings' sufferings should be concerning to us as made in Gods image moral beings.I never said that suffering is not a big deal or that we should not heal and stop suffering .I'm saying the opposite .And bought up the very real horrific sufferings in the world today and how such sufferings result in crisis of faith in non survivors.[in previous posts]
I acknowledged Sheila's sufferings and told her how she might be free of them.I asked her to walk through what her past and present sufferings were/are, ditching the memes. by moving through them." And so?" Sheila is fixated as are many survivors on past injustices and sufferings as if they were not being addressed. They are, yet Sheila like many survivors will not accept the outstretched hand that the institutional church has been doing with survivors for years. That speaks to survivors being emotionally invested in NOT wishing to heal from clerical sexual abuse .

Every mental/ emotional state is a physical[brain] state too; so to say that PTSD is a brain disorder says nothing. It's more repeating memes uncritically. I know what PTSD is.

What I told Sheila was not lacking in compassion.I was talking to her with more love and compassion then anyone ever has, probably, for I was talking to her like she has a mind of her own,[ "PTSD brain disorder" and all] like she is a person in her own right who transcends the survivor- identity- mode -and- its- [PTSD] memes, she has adapted . Right Sheila?

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 6 days ago

Sheila - Thank you for making your lesbian abuse public the other day on another post. Did you ever report that nun to her religious superiors to the bishop or state authorities? You stated that you had confronted her years later but seemed to indicate she wasn't exactly full of contrition? If you didn't report that abuse event (s) to the Church authorities, how could the Church even know about it to respond. The reason I ask is it seems to me this was the only person who ever sexually abused you and sometimes the best way to get closure is on a one-on-one basis (see the recent CBS story link below), rather than as a "we must all heal together" class-action type of way. In fact, in your comment, you also argue that the reports in the media are in themselves further abuse ("a re-experiencing") of you and others, and that it is a dangerous time "for us". Are you blaming the media or the Grand juries or the public announcements of religious orders for this? And, won't some of your suggestions only result in more news and more triggering? Finally, to have a crisis abuse line staffed by people once sexually abused might not be a good idea, because of the very re-triggering fear you mention. We do not do this for other crisis lines. I am in support of a Abuse crisis line, but it should be handled by trained professionals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00n5Bf_9Gik

A Fielder
2 weeks 6 days ago

Sheila, I agree. The clergy misconduct hotline is a good idea. I would bet that even those of us who did benefit from an initial term of therapy for our PTSD will still struggle intermittently with numerous issues long after the dioceses/religious order mails the check to pay for that first year of therapy.

rose-ellen caminer
2 weeks 6 days ago

I'll volunteer for that hotline. If the response here is any indication, after getting therapy from me, they will forget all their past trauma and be cured![I'll take memories of some unsolicited sex encounter decades ago over listening to HER,[lol ].Just kidding.

Dolores Pap
2 weeks 6 days ago

Rose-ellen..I am shocked by your callousness - couched as a 'realistic assessment ' of another's deep and painful struggle...

rose-ellen caminer
2 weeks 6 days ago

Why my "realist assessment" is "couched callousness" you don't say, that is callousness on your part.;a pot calling the kettle.My assessment was, I believe realistic[ in ptsd therapy they tell people to walk through the steps I mentioned to Sheila] and my assessment came from a sincere desire to treat her as a real person [believing that she wants to be an authentic self in the world] as opposed to the way many may be treating her , as a brain disorder trigger/perpetual in crisis, ptsd person who spent so much time in the "survivor" role she does not know how to be any other way .So no one treats her any other way. I did .I treated her as if she were already an authentic person capable of reasoning through beyond the false self she has put on, for whatever reasons. What her reason are I don't know ;maybe life became easier for her to have the deep pain of having been abused many years ago, then not, as being a survivor gave her an identity identity, connections , purpose, maybe its better then no identity. Maybe that deep pain covers, compensates for the underlying pain of unacknowledged emptiness. if for whatever reason that pain is all you have cultivated then its all you have. Maybe that's the real pain now. I treat Sheila like she is already what really wants to be ; an already authentic Sheila, not defined by a disordered identity stemming from a painful incident that occurred once and long ago that she put on as a strategy to avoid her own emptiness[ the real pain].

Judy Jones
2 weeks 6 days ago

A list of ALL credibly accused priests in each dioceses including the religious order clergy should have been done a long time ago. Exposing their names helps victims to know that they are not alone, plus it protects kids today.
Judy Jones, SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, snapjudy@gmail.com, 636-433-2511

Molly Roach
2 weeks 6 days ago

Where is the moderator of this thread?

J Brookbank
2 weeks 5 days ago

Sheila, your idea of a hotline staffed by survivors and trained professionals is good one and I pray it will happen. Volunteers on hotlines of all kinds provide intensive training and supervision by trained professionals, which allows survivors to participate in the supportive listening and referral process which is vital to so many sufferers. If survivors weren't allowed to serve on hotlines, few hotlines could keep their lines up and running. Your goal is a solid one and you have clearly been doing your research. What a generous focus for your own healing.

I understand your comment that survivors are being triggered as a clarion call, not a complaint that the truth is being told publicly again and again and in more and more publications by a whole new set of accusers: the legal system. I heard your comment as a reality-check to the institutional Church about the nature of this trauma and as pushback against any who want to believe that we are now just in mop-up mode, as push back against those who want to believe that the trauma of long-silenced abuse by trusted adults and superiors is not actively flooding lives *as we write today*.

I did NOT hear your comments as a request that the issue disappear from the news. Rather, I heard it as support for truth-telling AND a demand for care for those who have been and continue to be most harmed by this far-from-complete and long overdue public truth-telling.

Again, your idea is a solid one; there are many models of similar hotlines to use in developing the one you propose; and you have done your research in identifying a nationwide unmet need. Well done, you good and faithful servant.

Happy Thanksgiving, Sheila.

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