Abuse scandal in the US church: ProPublica publishes documentation © Victor Moussa (shutterstock)
The U.S. church has promised transparency in dealing with abuse. In fact, documentation on "credible suspects" is incomplete and flawed, according to the nonprofit organization ProPublica.
Larry Giacalone carried his dark secret for more than four decades. Just three years ago, it filed a lawsuit. Former Boston priest Richard Donahue allegedly sexually assaulted him in 1976. The abuse case of the then-twelve-year-old never ended up in court; however, the archdiocese compensated Giacalone for his "physical and emotional injuries" with 73.000 dollars.
Boston archdiocese does not list Donahue's name on its list of abuse priests. Nor has there been since Giacalone's lawyer publicly criticized the church in 2019 for transferring a tidy sum of money to a victim. Still, to say priest wasn't pedophile is already "an insult to one's intelligence," Mitchell Garabedian attacked church. It's a classic case of the archdiocese "ducking, delaying and avoiding problems," he said.
Insights via interactive search engine
The ProPublica organization has identified this phenomenon elsewhere as well. According to the report, not all U.S. dioceses are as transparent as claimed. Recently published the first overall survey of nearly all U.S. dioceses and religious congregations on clergy sexual abuse. Via interactive search engine, documentary provides insight into 178 lists ProPublica has collected and analyzed nationwide since 2018. More than 5.It lists 800 abusive priests by name.
Still missing is information from 41 dioceses and dozens of religious congregations that have not yet submitted lists on abuse; including the dioceses of Rockville Center in New York and Fresno, Calif. Abuse assessment standards vary from diocese to diocese. That's because of the lack of guidance from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which gave dioceses the freedom to decide for themselves who would be included on lists as a credible suspect. Diocesan assessments vary between "credible," "plausible," "probable" or "proven".
Dealing with it differently in dioceses
So the Archdiocese of Kansas City itself released names of priests against whom investigators could not produce evidence. On the other hand, the Toledo, Ohio diocese did not list names of abusive priests who died – because they "did not pose a threat".
That is now likely to change. The abuse search engine is putting prere on dioceses that have not yet published, says Terence McKiernan, president of the organization Bishop Accountability. It lists more than 450 priests' names alone that are not named by any diocese. Still, McKiernan says church is experiencing wave of transparency. No other country is doing what the U.S. bishops are doing, he praises the clarification effort.
"Not complete transparency"
The attorney for the victims' organization SNAP, David Clohessy, sees it differently. More perpetrators are now known – but fully transparent is the U.S. church "by no means". Some dioceses "continued to share only what was necessary". There are also craft reasons for this. "Mobile" priests who worked in different places for decades are assessed differently by their respective dioceses.
For example, the case of Alfredo Prado. Priest accused of abuse in six dioceses. In San Angelo and in Victoria, it is listed as "Alfred". And only in San Antonio is it recorded that Prado allegedly abused five children. Only the Diocese of Victoria offers a full resume. Whether he is still alive is not known anywhere. Prado's story is representative of major inconsistencies in diocesan documentation, ProPublica criticizes.
For Larry Giacalone, more than four decades after his nightmare, suffering is not over. When he learned through a reporter that the Archdiocese of Boston still considered his accusation of the priest "unfounded" even after the compensation payment, he shook his head. "I just feel sorry for them."