Chicago, United States | AFP | Jesuit authorities for 20 US states on Monday released the names of 89 priests with credible allegations of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1950.
The disclosures by the Jesuit provinces of Maryland and USA Midwest are the latest chapter in the ongoing sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church and come after 153 Jesuits were publicly identified by two other provinces earlier this month.
Maryland released 24 names with allegations dating back to 1950 and USA Midwest released 65 names dating back to 1955. Many of the individuals are deceased, and some were previously publicly known to be accused of sexual assault.
“On behalf of the Midwest Jesuits, I apologize to victim-survivors and their families for the harm and suffering you have endured. Many of you have suffered in silence for decades,” Brian Paulson, head of the USA Midwest province, said in an open letter.
Jesuits are the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, with some 16,000 members worldwide. They operate 30 colleges and 81 schools in the United States and Canada.
The names made public Monday included dozens of priests with multiple allegations of abuse who served in educational institutions.
– Decades of abuse, errors dating to 1930s –
The priest with the most recent allegations was Donald McGuire, who died in federal prison in 2017 while serving a 25-year sentence. His was among the names that had been previously publicized.
Numerous men have accused McGuire of molesting them when they were boys. The first allegations dated to the 1950s, when he worked at a Jesuit private high school in Chicago, and went as late as 2005.
“Most of the Jesuits on our list entered religious life from the 1930’s through the early 1960’s. In retrospect, our evaluation of candidates, as well as the training, formation, and supervision of Jesuits, was not adequate,” Paulson said.
He added that the organization had learned from its mistakes, and has improved training for Jesuits and was holding them accountable if abuse allegations are made.
The latest revelations came as religious orders are starting to face similar scrutiny to the rest of the Catholic Church and are embarking on efforts at transparency.
– Lists ‘incomplete’ –
Earlier this month, provinces overseeing Jesuits in more than 20 western, southern and central US states released lists of 153 members accused of child sexual abuse.
The Maryland province’s leader, who is known as the provincial, said Monday’s release was meant to provide transparency and accountability, and that an external audit of the organization’s files would be conducted “to ensure that our previous reviews were both accurate and complete.”
“We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused to victims and their families,” the provincial, Robert Hussey, said in an open letter published on the organization’s website.
“We view the disclosure today of our shameful history as part of our commitment now to preventing abuse.”
A victim’s advocacy group welcomed the disclosures, but noted that they came only after sustained public pressure, including from prosecutors.