Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Recommending "The List" — Commentary on Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and Its Yet to Be Fulfilled Promise to Release List of Abusive Priests

As I have noted in previous postings (a bibliography is appended at the end of this posting, covering the past several years), the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the last dioceses in the nation to release a list of priests credibly accused of abusing minors, though its sister diocese in Raleigh long since published its list. As I've also noted (again, please see the bibliography below), Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis promised this year that he would release a list of credibly accused priests prior to the end of the year.

That list has yet to be released. As many people, notably survivors, wait for Jugis' list, Charlotte's NPR station WFAE has been issuing very valuable pre-list commentary in a multi-part series of podcasts entitled "The List." Reporter Sarah Delia is overseeing and producing this important project.

As the "About" statement for "The Link" states, 

The Charlotte Diocese has made a promise to release by the end of the year a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. It will be among the last in the country to do so. WFAE looks at what the list represents, the emotional weight and expectations it carries, the resolution it can bring for survivors.

The first episode in the series of podcasts, "The Who and the What," adds,

In May 2019, the bishop of the Charlotte Diocese, Peter Jugis, announced that a list of clergy who have been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse involving minors would be released. Jugis said the diocese was "committed to finishing the investigation and publishing a list of credibly accused clergy before the end of the year." Now it's December, and time is running out for the Charlotte Diocese to meet that deadline. And people are waiting.

In that episode, Delia interviews Terence McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability.org, who states the following:

It really is quite remarkable that over 140 dioceses in the United States, out of a total of 178, have now released lists. So, it certainly is true that Charlotte is late in releasing its list.

Sarah Delia adds: 

And since I spoke to McKiernan, that number has gone up. At least 146 dioceses have released lists.

As she goes on to explain,

The Charlotte Diocese is relatively young. It was established in 1972, and it's made up of 46 counties of western North Carolina. That includes 92 parishes and missions, 19 Catholic schools and St. Joseph College Seminary in Charlotte. It's a member of what's called the Ecclesiastical Province of Atlanta. That includes the dioceses of Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Savannah (Georgia) and Charleston (South Carolina). Out of that group, the Charlotte Diocese is the only one that has not yet to release a list.  

I'm drawing your attention to this valuable resource because it's doing good investigative reporting about a diocese that has been characterized by some critics (see the bibliography below) as one of the least transparent in the entire nation, and because the local media have been, up to now, shamefully slow to report stories that reflect negatively on the Charlotte diocese and Catholic institutions in the diocese. This is true above all of the city's newspaper, The Charlotte Observer

The WFAE-NPR reporting is filling a gap in media coverage in the Charlotte area that has long needed to be filled. The series also provides important commentary that offers good perspectives on what's occurring in the Charlotte diocese. In episode two of the series, "The How," Sarah Delia interviews Father Tom Doyle, noted whistleblower of the Catholic abuse situation, who states, 

In our justice system, if you’re credibly accused of murder, people know about it. You know, your name is put in the newspaper. It’s not kept secret. The people in North Carolina have just as much a right as anybody else to know what priests who’ve been employed by that diocese have been known to have sexually violated children, minors or vulnerable adults. 

She also interviews local attorney Seth Langson, who has represented abuse survivors suing the Charlotte diocese. She says,

Langson has taken on multiple civil lawsuits against the Charlotte Diocese. Because of that, he's seen a lot of documents. Langson says some of the documents contain information on allegations going back to the 1980s, but those documents are now sealed.  

Seth Langson tells Delia,

They were ordered by the court after they objected to giving me names of priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor, I think it was going back to 1980. I've got information on that. I can't say anything about who's in that, whose papers I saw, what names I learned. As far as I kno', I’m the only person outside of the Charlotte Diocese who’s ever seen this information. You know, I'm not getting younger and it's very frustrating. I feel like other people need to know. 

To which Delia responds,

Point being, Langson says, he's seen a lot. And he's been waiting — not only for himself but for his former clients, to see who is on the list and how it measures up.  

And then Seth Langson adds,

I'll be very surprised if I don't know of one or more names of priests who've had what I think are credible accusations that aren't on the list.  

As I've noted in several previous postings, survivors and watchdog groups are finding that, throughout the U.S. as lists of abusive priests are released by dioceses and religious communities, names of known perpetrators are being omitted from these lists. These are names known to survivors and watchdog groups. In the much-discussed case of Bishop Malone of Buffalo, who "resigned" recently after his own assistant Siobhan O'Connor blew the whistle on his cover-up of abuse cases, this choice of bishops to omit names from their lists once again received international news coverage. O'Connor found a folder listing abusive priests in the Buffalo diocese — one Malone had hidden — and realized that the list Malone had released was highly truncated. And she then chose to blow the whistle.

In the third episode in "The List," entitled "The Why," Sarah Delia wonders why it is taking the Charlotte diocese so long to release its list, given that it's a young diocese and the diocese wants to maintain that no abuse is currently going on in the diocese: 

The Charlotte Diocese says that guidelines and procedures outlined in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People are working. The diocese says some 50,000 volunteers and parishioners have undergone training on what behaviors might signal some kind of inappropriate conduct.  
So, if the abuse isn't currently ongoing in the church and the charter is working, why has it taken so long for this particular diocese to release a list? At least 80% of the dioceses in the United States have already done so. 

To put the claim of the Charlotte diocese into perspective, see what SNAP tweeted two days ago:

Episode four of "The List," entitled "The When," features another interview of Terry McKiernan by Sarah Delia, in which McKiernan states, 

I know for a fact that sometimes Charlotte got problem priests from other dioceses. Is the Charlotte list going to include those priests or not? Completeness is a really important question to ask when a list comes out. Is the information usable and complete, or is the list a real bare-bones list that isn’t going to get us very far?

To which Delia responds,

Out of the 178 dioceses in the country at last 146 have released lists. 
Complete, thorough, detailed, comprehensive. Everyone says they want the list to be described by those words, but will everyone at the end of the day feel those are accurate adjectives to describe the list? 
Short of saying the review process is ongoing and that the plan is still to release a list by the end of the year, we're still waiting for a release date.

Lots of folks are still waiting, and wondering when this list, which was to be released before the end of 2019, is going to appear — and whether it will be complete, and will contain detailed information to make it useful to those monitoring abuse cases in American Catholic dioceses. I recommend this podcast series to you if you're among those interested in this situation.

Oh, and as a footnote to the preceding discussion: yesterday, Bishop Jugis announced he had placed the pastor of St. Matthew's parish in Charlotte, Father Patrick Hoare, on leave due to allegations that he abused someone in Pennsylvania 25 years ago. St. Matthew's is one of the largest parishes in the U.S.

Here's a list of postings I've made in the past several years that provide commentary about the situation in the Charlotte diocese:

SNAP Holds Media Event in Charlotte: Bishop Peter Jugis Endangering Children by Refusing to List Names of Predator Priests

Footnote to Story re: Resignation of Chancellor of Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, Mauricio West: The Damage Clericalism Does in the Catholic Church

Chancellor of Charlotte Catholic Diocese and Fomer Belmont Abbey College Administrator Resigns: Credible Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Belmont Abbey, Where I Met Waterloo as a Theologian, Back in News: Two Abbey Priests Who Served at the College Appear in List of Accused Priests

As Catholic Dioceses Release Lists of Priests Credibly Accused of Abuse of Minors, Important Things to Watch for: The Case of Arkansas

Front Page News Today in Charlotte, North Carolina: "PRIESTS ACCUSED OF SEX ABUSE — The Charlotte Diocese Has Not Released Lists"

As More U.S. Catholic Diocesan Offices Are Searched by Police, Reports Continue That Lists of Abusive Priests Released by Bishops Are Incomplete

With the Catholic Bishops, It's Always Someone Else's Sin That's Responsible for the Abuse Crisis: A Response to the Bishops' Prayer-and-Fasting Regime

Remembering Bishop William G. Curlin of Charlotte As Eminently Pastoral (There's Still No Room in the Inn for You Queer Catholics)

Remembering Bishop William G. Curlin of Charlotte As Eminently Pastoral (There's Still No Room in the Inn for You Queer Catholics) (2)

Bishop William G. Curlin: Some Last Words (about Pastoral Image and Pastoral Substance)

"Bishops Like Curlin and Cardinal Law, What They Have Done Is Criminal": A Church That Wants to Be Pastoral Must Listen to Testimony of Abuse Survivors

The Message of the Church to LGBTQ Catholics: Merry Christmas — Oh, and There's (Still) No Room in the Inn for the Likes of You

Wolf or Sheep? Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis Defends Right of Catholic Institutions to Fire Gay Employees Who Go Public About Their Lives and Loves

On Palm Sunday, a Letter I Wrote a Bishop Twenty Years Ago: "Your Eyes Are Fixed More on Power, Privilege, and Façades, Than on the Substance of the Gospel"

On Holy Thursday, a Letter I Wrote a Bishop Twenty Years Ago: "Will a Church That Destroys the Careers of Valuable Lay Ministers, While Protecting Pedophile Priests, Have a Bright Future?"

On Good Friday, a Letter I Wrote a Bishop Twenty Years Ago: The Abuse Crisis and "A Picture of Christian Pastors Colluding with the Powerful of the World, to Protect Assets"

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