By Katherine Long | Editor
The Diocese of Syracuse will release Dec. 3 a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor in the diocese since 1950. The list will include the names of both living and deceased priests. The list will be available at thecatholicsun.com and syrdio.org Monday morning.
The release was publicly announced in a letter from Bishop Robert J. Cunningham to the people of the diocese dated Dec. 1 and made available in all parishes over the weekend. Priests were informed in meetings with the bishop on Nov. 29 and diocesan staff were informed Nov. 30.
“The news over the past few months of the tragic failings of the Catholic Church has been deeply distressing and has caused many to lose faith and trust. It continues to weigh heavily on our hearts. Personally for me, as your bishop, I have prayerfully considered what I can do to help rebuild trust and forge a path to restoring and strengthening the faith,” Bishop Cunningham wrote in his letter.
There long have been calls to release the names of credibly accused clergy. The diocese’s longstanding policy has been to confirm the name of an accused abuser when a survivor made it public. That approach, as diocesan officials have explained, is an effort to respect the wishes of both those survivors who want abusers’ names made public and those who do not.
“Upon serious reflection and prayer, I have concluded that this practice has become a roadblock to moving our local Church forward,” Bishop Cunningham said in his letter.
“Additionally, I believe it is not fair to my successor whomever he is or whenever he comes, to leave him with this decision.” In accordance with canon law, Bishop Cunningham submitted his letter of resignation to the Holy Father on his 75th birthday in June. A successor has not yet been named and Bishop Cunningham remains the leader of the diocese.
The letter notes that “there is no priest in active ministry with a credible complaint of child sexual abuse and any allegations received have been decades old. It is important to note that this list has been provided to the District Attorneys of all counties in the diocese.”
“While I am aware that the release of these names will cause pain for some victims, families of the accused, friends and parishioners, I know that we are at a critical juncture in the history of our Church,” the bishop’s letter concludes. “It is my fervent hope and prayer that this effort will bring some peace and healing to those who have been directly harmed and to all members of our community of faith.”