Victims of sexual abuse in the church have been trying to get lists of accused priests published for years. Recently, the Diocese of Winona came forward with a list naming 14 priests that may have been involved in the sexual abuse of minors. The list was submitted to a district court in Ramsey County just one day prior to a judge’s established deadline. The formation of the list was part of a judicial order that required Minneapolis and St. Paul churches to release a similar list earlier in the month. That list named 34 priests.
According to one attorney that represents victims of sex crimes, these lists help keep children safe. Also, he argues that the lists may help victims to seek confidential help rather than suffering in silence. One advocate for abuse victims, a former priest, stated that the list is a good start but is by no means comprehensive. He believes that the number of priests involved in sexual abuse may be much larger. He also states that the lists should reveal when church leaders found out about the abuse and what was done to cover up the incidents.
Some of the priests on the list are now deceased. One of the five clergy that is sill alive was removed from his position. Three more priests on the list will be removed soon. One bishop from the diocese has apologized for the alleged crimes and has expressed his hope that the church and community can move forward. Advocates for the victims state that bishops must have the courage to contact police when these allegations arise, otherwise no progress will take place.
Even though the crimes that are alleged in this situation are particularly despicable and involve a severe breach of trust, it must be remembered that these are just accusations. The priests are innocent until proven guilty in the courts, regardless of the public outrage surrounding them.
Source: kare11.com, “Winona Diocese priest list released” No author given, Dec. 16, 2013