Abuse survivor says diocese list falls short

Local News

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has released the names of dozens of priests that are facing ‘credible and substantiated’ allegations of sexual abuse against a minor. 

The list, which contains the names of 42 priests, was published by the Diocese of Richmond Wednesday afternoon. 

“To the victims and to all affected by the pain of sexual abuse, our response will always be about what we are doing, not simply what we have done,” the Most Rev. Barry C. Knestout, Bishop of Richmond, said in an open letter published with the clergy list.

“We will seek not just to be healed but will always be seeking healing. We will seek not just to be reconciled but will always be seeking reconciliation.”

In an open letter addressed to the Catholic Church community last September, Bishop Barry Knestout says he is committed to addressing accusations of abuse quickly and transparently., Bishop Knestout promised to address all accusations ‘quickly and transparently.’

Attorney General Mark Herring launched a hotline and website to report clergy abuse in October.

STATEMENT FROM SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS (SNAP):

Two dioceses in Virginia have released their lists of clergy who have been “credibly” accused of abuse. We are grateful for this move but urge further action. The Diocese of Richmond, VA has released a list of 42 names of clerics who have been accused of sexually abusing children or vulnerable adults. Similarly, the Diocese of Arlington has announced a list of 16 accused clergy. It is always helpful for survivors when these lists are posted, especially for those who may be suffering in silence. Seeing that they are not alone helps victims heal and could also compel others who were abused – whether by the same person or in the same place – to come forward. But what is not helpful is when lists are carefully curated to leave off names of priests who have been accused of abuse but whose allegations haven’t been deemed by church officials to be “credible.” We have seen previous cases where accusations have been deemed not credible only for those determinations to have been disastrously wrong. Sadly, we have already heard from survivors in Virginia whose perpetrator’s name has been omitted. “The man who abused me was listed on disclosures from both the Diocese of Richmond and the Diocese of Arlington, so I am experiencing some healing and validation,” said Becky Ianni, a survivor and SNAP leader from Virginia. “At the same time, I know there are other victims who are feeling angry, upset and disbelieved when they see their perpetrator left off, and I am saddened that instead of feeling validated, they are feeling re-victimized.” We urge catholic officials in Virginia to not only go back to these lists and add any names that may have been omitted, but also to add work histories, information about current whereabouts and, critically, when the diocese first learned of the allegations and what their immediate response was. Only by including this information can we get a clearer picture of what went wrong in Virginia and what must be done now to protect children and prevent abuse.

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