Church posts names of Boston clergy accused of child sex abuse
Cardinal Sean O'Malley made public the names of 159 clerics accused of child abuse.
August 25th, 2011
09:10 PM ET

Church posts names of Boston clergy accused of child sex abuse

By Tom Cohen, CNN

(CNN) -
A total of 250 clerics in the Boston Archdiocese have been accused of child abuse in recent decades, according to information made public Thursday by Cardinal Sean O'Malley in an attempt to help resolve an issue tearing at the core of Catholicism.

O'Malley said the archdiocese posted online the names of 159 accused clergy members, while there were 91 others who also faced some level of accusation but were not named for various reasons.

An investigation that began after the crisis over sexual abuse of children in the Boston Archdiocese fully emerged in 2002 has pored over records dating back more than 60 years, with subsequent decisions on who to name based on the nature of the accusations and other factors, according to O'Malley.

The disclosure by the Boston Archdiocese represented a shift in policy in a further effort to reach out to victims and their families harmed by the sexual abuse scandal, O'Malley said in a seven-page letter accompanying the announcement.

"My deepest hope and prayer is that the efforts I am announcing today will provide some additional comfort and healing for those who have suffered from sexual abuse by clergy and will continue to strengthen our efforts to protect God's children," the letter concluded.

However, the director of an advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by priests called the steps announced by O'Malley insufficient and irresponsible, saying only one of the named priests was new to public information.

"We're disappointed with this very belated and begrudging and incomplete list," said a statement by David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Alleging that the names posted by O'Malley deliberately omitted "at least a third of predator priests," Clohessy's statement added that "some kids will be spared some abuse, because some predator priests are now more easily identified, and some victims will feel validation."

"But, many, many more would take comfort if O'Malley released new names instead of continuing the secrecy," the statement said.

O'Malley wrote that the policy change he was announcing "represents the first time that names of accused clerics have been compiled by the Archdiocese in a central location and a readily accessible format."

The letter noted that the searchable lists posted on the website http://www.bostoncatholic.org included what he called "pertinent information" about each member of the clergy listed, such as the individual's year of birth and year of ordination; whether the cleric is alive or deceased; their current status within their church; the date of any disciplinary action, dismissal or criminal conviction; and a link to their assignment history.

"I am acutely aware of the harm that the abuse of children by clergy has caused in the lives of so many," O'Malley wrote in the letter. "And while I know there will be some who believe our policy changes should go further, after careful consultation and consideration of views expressed by many people and groups, I believe that the changes we are making are appropriate."

According to the letter, one list posted includes the names of all Boston Archdiocese clergy who have been found guilty of sexually abusing a child by the Catholic Church or under criminal law, as well as any accused individuals who voluntarily requested removal from the clergy.

In addition, the list also names archdiocese clergy still facing public accusations of child sex abuse, as well as those who died before public accusations of sex abuse against them could be fully investigated or were leveled in the first place.

A separate list includes the names of clergy eventually cleared of public accusations of sexual abuse, O'Malley's letter said. Some of the priests on the second list have returned to active ministry, he noted.

"In the present environment, a priest who is accused of sexually abusing a minor may never be able to fully restore his reputation, even if cleared after civil or canonical proceedings," the letter added.

The 91 accused priests not named on the lists include 62 deceased clergy who were never publicly accused or fully investigated, O'Malley's letter said.

"I emphasize that our decision not to list the names of deceased priests who have not been publicly accused and as to whom there were no canonical proceedings conducted or completed (most were accused well after their death) does not in any way mean that the archdiocese did not find that the claims of particular survivors who accused those deceased priests to be credible or compelling," the letter said. "Indeed, in many of those cases, the archdiocese already has proceeded to compensate the survivor and provides counseling and pastoral care to those individuals."

Of the other accused clergy not named, 22 faced unsubstantiated accusations, four were not in active ministry and face preliminary investigation, and three were already out of the ministry by their own volition or dismissal and never were publicly accused, O'Malley's letter said.

The archbishop's letter pointed out that most of the sexual abuse cases and allegations involve misconduct, real or claimed, from decades earlier, "before the Church adopted its current child protection policies."

It noted that the "vast majority" of complaints to the archdiocese before 2004 involved alleged incidents from 1965 to 1982, and that more recent data showed that only 4% of the 198 accusations received from 2004 to 2010 were alleged to have occurred after 1990.

"I do not say this in any way to minimize the abuse of minors by Boston priests, which is heinous, or the serious mistakes made by the Church hierarchy in responding to it," O'Malley said in the letter. "Nor do I seek to ignore the harm caused to survivors by these historical incidents, harm which is both current and the subject of our ongoing pastoral response.

"Rather I simply seek to place the problem in context and to give the faithful some confidence that the policies adopted by the Church to protect its children starting in the early 1990s have been effective," O'Malley wrote.

–CNN's Samantha Stamler contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Church • Sex abuse • United States

soundoff (442 Responses)
  1. BE

    One mistake that people make is to believe that somehow the "clergy" are the Church. The clergy have a role in the Church, but it is the people of God who are the Church. Hopefully these scandals will teach everybody that the honor and reverence that have been shown the clergy is misplaced. People should not be respected based on their position, but rather based on their life and their actions. Bad clergy do not equate with bad Church, it only equates with bad clergy. The Church is much bigger than that. I am a practicing Episcopalian and we have bad (and good) clergy as well. Nevertheless, we have a wonderful Church.

    August 26, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Blessed

      Absolutely, spot on. Its the truth there.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • TXmom

      Well said.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  2. Barry G.

    Jesus said:
    “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves."

    Luke 17:1-2

    August 26, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  3. TheWiz

    Each one of these is a disgrace to the "uniform" of clergy, and a disgrace to everything Jesus Christ stands for. At the same time, the Roman Church, from the Bishop of Rome on down, ought to be ashamed of itself how it aided and abetted those who abused their positions as priests and pastors to fulfill selfish desires by victimizing people. If you have left the church because of such things, I can't say I blame you. But, there are alternatives. If one wishes to remain catholic, but not Roman, check out the Episcopal or Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox, and others.

    August 26, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  4. Joe Zamecki

    They shouldn't be allowed to "reach out to victims," they should be shut down. Why are criminals running a criminal organization that we KNOW harms lots of innocent people, get to continue doing all that? This isn't the bad guys being busted. This is the bad guys getting a free ride. It's called RICO.

    August 26, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  5. sortakinda

    It seems that the "anyone can be cured" psychological community should be taking some heat–How many psychologists pronounced pedophiles, priests, rabbis, ministers, teachers, Catholics and not (MOSTLY NOT) "cured," only to have the behaviors recur? NOW we know how ineffective psycho-therapy really is.

    August 26, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Baker

      Is it behavioral or physiological? Does anyone really know?

      August 26, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  6. amazed

    How can anyone still cling to the catholic church? How much more proof is needed to shut it down and level Rome?

    August 26, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Baker

      You mean Vatican City, which is outside of Rome. That would be like leveling Virginia because of the corrupt US government.

      August 26, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • TheWiz

      By "Rome" I presume you mean "Vatican City"? They're actually two separate things, although the Pope is the Bishop of the city of Rome.

      August 26, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Barry G.

      Many of us share your frustration and outrage, but there’s no need to throw out the baby with the bath water.

      Just because there are some evil and wicked members of the clergy, it doesn’t mean that we should do away with the Christian church.

      This would be like saying, because there are some quacks in the medical and scientific communities, we should do away with medicine and science.

      Remember there are good and decent Christians, who do nothing but good, each and every day of their lives.

      Remember the good works of faithful Christians, like Mother Teresa and many others.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Baker

      Barry, think "priesthood". Is it a good idea to start with?

      August 26, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Sean

      Considering there are proportionately just as many abusers in the public school system, are you also fighting to level the public schools in your area? Or did you just want to vent your hypocrisy on Catholics in general?

      August 26, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Stevie7

      If there was a systemic problem of covering up such abuses in my local district whereby district leaders knew of such abuses and simply moved the abuser to another school why paying hush money to the victim's family, yeah, I probably would advocate for level the school district – or at least completely overhauling the leadership.

      August 26, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • dkflksdjfla

      Moron? you shut down US government for number of corrupt politicians and law enforcers??

      August 26, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  7. George

    Abuse by the clergy has been going on for hundreds of years. They victimized people at the same time promising them to save their souls and taking their donation money. This is nothing but an organized fraud using the name of Jesus Christ. This has to stop. This is the reason why I stopped associating myself with the church. I am now a "liberated Christian".

    August 26, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • TheWiz

      Can't be a Christian without belonging to the Church (by which I mean the community of all faithful people, not any particular denomination – sorry Rome). Yes, you can believe in God and in Jesus Christ outside of the Church, but that is no great merit, even the devil knows God exists. It is the universal Christian faith that in order to actually belong to Jesus, one must be a living member of His mystical body. As such, we are not just believers in God, but participants in the life of God, on earth as in heaven. If being a "liberated Christian" means separating oneself from the body of the faithful, you may still be a member of Christ through baptism, but how "living" you are is another question. If you are RC, and are becoming disillusioned with that tradition, but still wish to live one's life as a small "c" catholic Christian, there are alternatives (the Eastern Orthodox, the Anglicans or Episcopalians, and so on).

      August 26, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Beverly

      and yes it has been.........and so it is for other people of faith. Pastors, clergymen.....ministers, it will never stop and to think this form of corruption has been around for hundreds of years and it has.
      Don't be mislead..........its truth. 🙂

      August 26, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • mc

      Man, Mr Wiz – that's a convoluted mess of mystical rules ya got there. It like the silliest club in town.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  8. starswing77x

    Scientific Research found that god-allergy may lead to a more serious problems. It has been found that such allergy would make brains shrink to the size of a quark. The origin of the disease was found to be from an ancient monkey specie called ramapheticus.

    Although it's not contagious and the number of half monkeys having such illness is quite immaterial than alarming, yet the patient revealing such symptoms must be brought to the nearest vet for immediate treatment. Otherwise, the patient may suffer the loss of human intellect due to a tremendous decrease of brain.

    However, it has been found not fatal. The patient may still live and continue making post in the internet like most (if not all) of half monkeys on this board. It seems that they're are suffering such ordeal
    made obvious by their brainless post.

    Furthermore, the patients may find that it's better for (half monkeys like you) to have a mega microscopic brain rather than to have a regular size one but only serves as an extra burden for a half human like them that has the intellectual capacity as to monkeys. Basically, it has no significant difference.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • JCC

      Church of Schizophrenia?

      August 26, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • jdub1983

      I'm sure you thought this sounded intelligent when you typed it out. I , however, must regretfully inform you that it does not. Your grammar descended from a monkey species.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  9. karen

    The Catholic Church has been "dealing" with the abusive priests in their own way for hundreds of years by moving them from parish to parish or sending them to some cushy retreat to get "help" with their problem. The sins of these priests were always pushed under the rug and because the church had such tight, emotional control over their congregations, the truth never seemed to get out. Now, at least the people of the RCC are showing some backbone and demanding justice. Why the RCC thought their priests were above the law and why they cared more for the reputation of their priests more than for the innocent children that suffered at the hands of these horrible men is beyond me. Scripture says that anyone that causes an innocent child to suffer and fall would be better off having a millstone around their neck and cast into the sea than face God's judgement. The RCC will fall because it has worn a millstone around her neck for as long as it has harbored abusive priests and turned it's back on the innocent.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  10. Phito11

    The thing about the church is that it seems that pedophiles have known for a long time that this is the place to be, this is the organization to be a part of if you want to molest children and get away with it. Somehow, somewhere this fact was discovered by them and the word spread around in that circle. So the church became the place to be if you want to molest children. The sooner we do away with religion the better the world will be.

    And before you believers begin to say that if there is no church then nobody will do anything to help others, just keep in mind that the two biggest philanthropist in the world are an Atheist and an Agnostic.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Nameless Face

      Just because someone is a philathropist doesn't mean he/she is acting out of the best intentions of others or because he cares about his fellow man. It benefits their own bottom line when tax time comes around.

      You are free to believe whatever you want to believe, but to suggest that religion be "done away with" is unAmerican. It goes against everything for which the First Amendment stands.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • PulTab


      August 26, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  11. Attila

    If you are surprised at the level of abuse of children by clergy in a country like the US which has a highly developed police and legal system to handle such crimes, consider how high the abuse probably is in less developed countries like those of South America. These countries have both a strong religious belief, mainly catholic, from the conquering Spaniards and Portugese, and weaker legal systems, which is ideal for the perpetrators.
    The catholic church has not come even close to admitting the true extent of this abuse, and probably never will, since it still has control of the minds of its adherents. Meanwhile, the damage caused to the victims lasts a lifetime.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Les

      The majority of "damage" done to the "victims" comes from those around them who incessantly telling them how damaged they are. I was molested as a child and it has left no damage or ill feelings toward the perpetrators. And, it was not a priest but rather a family member, the source of most cases of child abuse and corruption. BTW, the person that molested me and I are close friends today with no residual hard feelings. Since I was past the age of accountability, they asked for forgiveness for their "sin" and it was given. End of matter. Their error is remembered no more.

      I suppose keeping the spotlight on the clergy is a way for people to steer the eyed of the world from their own indiscretions. All in all, the excesses of the clergy are minimal when compared to the larger group of deviants in the general population. They say that the one who objects the most is the one who is diverting attention from the very things they do themselves.

      August 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  12. Doc Vestibule

    1. In 1962, The Vatican relased the 'Crimen Sollicitationis', which outlined how the church is to handle accusations of se.xual impropriety against clergy.
    The stickiest point for most people is that not only was the doc.ument itself Top Secret for decades, it explictly stated that anybody involved in this type of investigation, including the accuser and potential witnesses, are sworn to secrecy regarding any and all details, upon penalty of excommunication (a fate worse than death for the devout).
    This preoccupation with secrecy significantly slowed the investigative process – the backlog of referrals to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for action against se.xually abusive priests is so large that it takes 18 months to get a reply.
    According to the John Jay report, 918 of 1872 (49%) substantiated allegations of abuse against Catholic clergy were addressed by sending the priest off for psychiatric counseling and then moving him to another parish, with nary a whisper to law enforcement. This number does not include priests relocated for reasons other than charges of se.xual impropriety.
    The Irish Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse from 2009 came to the conclusion that ""the Dublin Archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child se.xual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its as.sets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities."
    The Roman Catholic Church is guilty of criminal conspiracy.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  13. jordan

    For years and years the Church abused the power they had.They screwed over my Ancestors who were not Christians,forced people to convert,burned people at the stake,tortured people,stole lands, and who knows what else.
    Now we see all sorts of disgusting things come out dealing with kiidie perverts.And they still do disturbing things.They want to beatify a priest from Yugoslavia who had blessed the Utashe movement a movement in WW2 that was responsible for killing 100,000's of people in very heinous ways.
    And they will never allow us to see the private archives of WW2.
    They are getting the payback they deserve for all the crimes they commited as man when they should of been acting as Priests.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  14. Luke

    Remember back in the eighties when religious nuts were claiming that satanic "covens" were raping children all over not only America, but the whole world? Hmmm.

    August 26, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Danny

      I guess it was the 250+ priest doing it ... LOL

      August 26, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  15. Hypocrite Logic

    250 child rapists in one tiny section of a world wide religion. Those kinds of numbers take some serious effort to keep covered up for so long. Shame on all the clergy and all the parishioners who turned a blind eye to this enormous pedophile ring. Without the brainwashing effect organized religions have on it's followers, this would never have gotten so big. People have been manipulated into believing their religion is their god, and are willing to sacrifice their own children to it, and fight to the death to protect it.

    Christians and Muslims, you are being used. Be good, not religious.

    August 26, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Shemp Howard

      I think it's all "part of god's plan"

      August 26, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • John

      What makes you think it's different in other parts of the country? The church have become experts in covering this kind of thing, but slowly and surely.... Should make everyone wonder waht religion is really about, not intending to put everyone in the same basket but, where the shoe fits...

      August 26, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  16. Crazy Medic

    They should put everyone of them in prison where they would enjoy what they get. No exceptions. The catholics have covered it up for years and done virtually nothing about it.

    August 26, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  17. wendy5

    per vertssss; american living here in canada in niagra falls; the niagra parway is beautiful and the houses magnifigant and there is this huge huge mcmanision called precouis blood 16 plus bedrooms with own bathrooms horse farm top of the line cars in the back very very elegant; guess who lives there priests so thanks for your donations the perverts are living well your not but they are hahahaha people are so stupid to give these freaks any money; and you are totally illiterate if you think these people have any connection to god; i would have to say that god will probly punish the phony pervs and any followers they may have ; obviously they know the religion is phony or they wouldnt be doing what they do

    August 26, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • goober

      Go back to school and take some english and spelling courses. You are an illiterate American who has overstayed his/her welcome in Canada.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  18. Reality

    Another nail in the coffin of the RCC and its "holier than thou" priesthood!!!!

    But to be fair about the situation:

    Why did today's pope, prelates, preachers and rabbis, so focused on society's se-xual sins, lose sight of clerical se-xual sins?


    Obviously ordination in any religion is not assurance of good behavior !!!!!

    Neither is coronation!!! e.g. Henry VIII, King David.

    Neither is marriage as 50% of those men convicted of pedophilia are married.

    Neither is being elected president of the USA!! e.g. Billy "I did not have se-x with that girl" Clinton, John "Marilyn Monroe" Kennedy"

    Neither is possessing super athletic skill!!! e.g. Tiger "I am so sorry for getting caught" Woods.

    Neither is being an atheist or pagan since pedophilia is present in all walks of life.

    If someone is guilty of a crime in this litany of "neithers" they should or should have been penalized as the law dictates to include jail terms for pedophiliacs (priests, rabbis, evangelicals, boy scout leaders, married men/women), divorce and alimony payments for adultery (Clinton, Kennedy, Woods), jail terms for obstruction of justice (Clinton, Cardinal Law, B16?) and the death penalty or life in prison for murder ("Kings David and Henry VIII).

    August 26, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  19. mike

    Why "pedophiles"? Most of the BOYS these gays abused were older than 13. Nowadays we seem to be all for defending the idea that young boys already know they are gay. Seems like the Catholic Church was way ahead of the times in defending gay behavior.

    August 26, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  20. Kevin

    No child's behind left.

    August 26, 2011 at 7:21 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.