Priestly Abuse The Diocese Can't Control or Compensate For

Law Firm says Religious Orders Have More Options to Shield Priests

Dave Debo
March 14, 2018 - 7:35 am

AP photo


(WBEN) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has embarked on extensive programs to compensate victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of clergy. But experts say there is more to the problem than just the diocesan priests who have been publicly accused. 

They warn that the attention given the issue, and the formal programs to help victims, do not usually extend to priests that operate in a particular diocese under the jurisdiction of a religious order.

"If Buffalo is consistent with other dioceses in New York, they will only deal with the diocesan priests. So for instance, none of the Vincentians at Niagara (University) . None of the Franciscans at (St. Bonaventure University).None of the nuns, none of the religious order brothers would be part of this program,," says Patrick Wall, a former priest who serves as a researcher and victim's advocate at Jeff Anderson and Associates,  a St. Paul Minnesota-based law firm .

On Wednesday, the firm released a report (READ IT HERE) on the re-assignment and removal of 13 accused priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, and says that bringing their names public will help survivors , and also give the community at large a sense of where problems may have been.

From the Diocese of Buffalo: FAQs on the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (for Childhood Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse)

  "The 13 names are already out there, what you now have is a review of the official Catholic Directory, which goes year by-year through the assignments of these alleged offenders, so that those members of those parishes and those towns will know, this alleged offender was here. He was here during this time period, perhaps someone in my family, perhaps someone I know is hurt,"  " says Anderson Attorney Michael Reck.

 Wall says that while many dioceses can use re-assignment to shield an offender from public claims, the religious orders can generally be even more effective at doing so because of their broad geographic reach.  

And statistically, Wall says, they too have their problems with offending priests.

"The classic number is six percent of clerics who will sexually assault a child in their lifetime," Wall says. ".. and in some places this comes out too low. because of the geographic solution. You're going to find certain spots where it is much higher. And the geographic orders actually come out in a higher percentage," Wall says

"The thing that's hard is that with  religious orders. Their geographic solution is not limited to the jurisdiction of Buffalo," he says. 

Reck and Wall say release of the report is also designed to pressure the diocese into releasing the names of all accused priests-- something that Richard Malone, the Bishop of Buffalo, has said is under consideration





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