February 11, 2020
By Kathleen McChesney
Transparency can be hard to look at.
On Jan. 28, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published a report headlined “Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency about Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered.” This report contains the names of the 5,800 priests and deacons who have been publicly identified by the bishops or superiors of 174 dioceses and religious orders as having had credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them in recent decades. In other words, ProPublica has created the only “List of Lists” of Catholic clergy abusers in the United States.
The names of many of the men on this list were previously known through the decades-long, dedicated work of BishopAccountability.org or discoverable in various open-source websites and blogs. But ProPublica has developed a new, comprehensive, interactive database whereby anyone can identify a “credibly accused” priest, deacon or brother who has been previously reported by his diocese or religious order, simply by searching his name. A handy “sounds like” function is included to assist in looking for someone whose exact name is unknown. The site also allows one to search by the name of a parish, diocese or religious order, and it provides a spreadsheet of any known data about an individual’s year of birth, ordination, status and assignment.