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Jesuits name 153 sexually abusive priests and brothers; more expected to be released.
Catholic Jesuit provinces covering much of the United States released the names of 153 priests and brothers they believe have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors and vulnerable adults since the 1940s. The list includes priests and brothers who had served at prominent institutions such as Georgetown University, Fordham University and Marquette University.
The Jesuits’ U.S. Central and Southern Province and West Province posted the names on their websites, and suggested more could be added following an outside review of thousands of files in the coming months. The Chicago-based Midwest province, which includes Wisconsin and parts of Illinois, plans to post its names Dec. 17.
The Jesuits are the latest Catholic entity to release the names of alleged abusers in an effort to regain the trust of the faithful. The church has been shaken by continued revelations of abuse – like those detailed in a devastating report by a Pennsylvania grand jury in August – and state and federal investigations into church actions across the country.
Friday’s lists included priests and brothers who served at prominent Jesuit high schools and universities across the country, including Marquette University and the University of San Francisco. Many served in multiple cities across the country.
“Silence in the face of the events of recent months cannot be an option,” the Rev. Ronald Mercier, provincial for the Central and South Province, said in releasing its names.
Mercier and the Rev. Scott Santarosa, provincial for the Jesuits West, both apologized for the suffering of survivors but stressed that a credible allegation did not mean the accused were guilty of a crime or liable for a civil claim.
“Words cannot possibly suffice to express our sorrow and shame for what occurred, our promise of prayers for healing, and our commitment to work with them,” Mercier said.
“Caring for these survivors – and preventing any such future events – must be our focus as we move forward.”
Peter Isely, a founding member of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, welcomed the announcement but said it is not enough. Isely called on the Jesuits – and bishops who grant the permission required to serve in a given diocese – to release documents showing how they dealt with abuse reports and acknowledge their role in protecting abusive priests.
“It’s one thing to release the names. But we need to see the underlying records,” Isely said. “It doesn’t answer the question that is so important right now, and that is: How were these abusers dealt with? …
“Are there individuals who covered up these acts in positions of authority now?”
The provinces provided no details about the allegations and do not say how many victims they believe were abused. The majority of the priests and brothers listed are now dead, and several were removed from ministry. Both provincials said no Jesuit with a credible allegation of abuse is in public ministry.
More than 3,500 priests have moved through the Jesuit order since the 1950s, according to the West Province release.
The priests and brothers named Friday were accused credibly of abusing minors and “vulnerable adults” – someone with a “physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights,” the Jesuit order says.
One of the names on the West Province list is Donald McGuire, a former Chicago priest who served at the University of San Francisco. McGuire was accused of molesting several boys for decades beginning in the 1960s. He was convicted on several state and federal counts in 2006. He was defrocked a year later and died in 2017 while serving a 25-year prison sentence.
McGuire is among at least three abusers who had been supervised by former Marquette president the Rev. Robert Wild when he led the Chicago Province from 1985 to 1991.
It is unclear whether the plan to release abusers’ names played any role in the September decision by Wild to ask Marquette to remove his name from a new $108 million residence hall on that campus. Abuse survivors had called on Wild for years to acknowledge his role in protecting Jesuit abusers during his tenure.
He did so for the first time publicly in a letter to Marquette President Michael R. Lovell and the school’s board of directors, in which he wrote: “During my six years in office, accusations of sexual abuse of minors were lodged against three of our members. Looking back, I would have handled certain aspects of those cases rather differently than I did then.”
It is not the first time the Jesuit order, one of the Catholic Church’s largest societies of religious men, has acknowledged sexual abuse by its members. In 2011, the Jesuits’ Oregon Province, which included Washington state, Alaska, Idaho and Montana, paid $166 million to settle abuse claims dating to the 1940s as part of its bankruptcy proceedings.
The province named some accused abusers during that settlement. It remains one of the largest church abuse settlements to date.
The Oregon Province of the Jesuits combined with the California Province in 2017 to form today’s West Province.
Dozens of dioceses across the country and several religious orders have posted the names of priests and brothers with credible allegations of abuse. Several posted those in the months since the Pennsylvania grand jury released its report, in response to demands by their members for greater accountability.
Church leaders, the grand jury said, protected more than 300 “predator priests” in six Roman Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania for decades because they were more interested in safeguarding the church and the abusers than tending to their victims.