Survivors group calls for Virginia to conduct Catholic priests abuse investigations

Posted at 8:48 AM, Oct 16, 2018

The Archdiocese of Washington released a list Monday of 28 former priests “credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.” A group representing survivors of clergy sex abuse quickly responded by labeling the list “incomplete.”

SNAP called for the attorneys general in Virginia, Maryland and Washington to begin independent investigations when it released its findings. Virginia’s Attorney General is Mark Herring.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) named three other priests it said had been convicted of or admitted sexual abuse offenses since 1997.

“Given such easily found omissions, the integrity of the entire list is called into question,” the SNAP statement said.

The group, citing identifications of abusive priests by church officials in other dioceses, said, “… it is worth noting that the Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August contained a list of 99 priests from the Diocese of Pittsburgh alone. As the Diocese of Pittsburgh is roughly half the size of the Archdiocese of Washington … we find it difficult to believe that this list of 28 priests is fully comprehensive.”

A spokesman for the Washington archdiocese countered that the three priests named by SNAP were “religious order priests with no ties to the archdiocese” of Washington.

“Those priests and the claims (against them) were dealt with by their orders. At least one of the priests mentioned did not even have faculties to practice here in Washington,” Ed McFadden, director of communication for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNN.

The archdiocese posted its list of 28 names on its website and listed timelines of accusations and church disciplinary action, and in many cases law enforcement charges and convictions against each of the priests, most of whom are now dead.

The archdiocese’s statement quoted Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the embattled former archbishop of Washington who has resigned, as saying, “to our knowledge there has not been a credible allegation of abuse of a minor by a priest of the archdiocese in almost two decades.”

In its statement, SNAP questioned that, saying the claim “should be independently verified by law enforcement.”

“It cannot be overlooked that this announcement comes immediately on the heels of the resignation of … Wuerl, almost as if the announcement were meant to distract from the fact that the Archdiocese’s leader had just resigned his position due to his role in sexual abuse cover-ups,” the SNAP statement added. Wuerl has denied such accusations.

Abuse survivors in Washington had been asking Wuerl to release the names of accused priests for more than a decade. When CNN asked the archdiocese in September if such a release was being planned, the archdiocese said it was under consideration. Since the Pennsylvania grand jury report was made public, dioceses around the country have been releasing lists of names of accused priests, with groups for survivors countering that the lists are incomplete.

Pope Francis accepted Wuerl’s resignation last week but asked him to remain as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator — akin to an interim manager — until a successor is named.

Wuerl has been accused by a former papal diplomat of knowing about allegations that his predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, had sexually abused seminarians. Wuerl has denied the accusations.