In a strange turn of events, the Catholic Church in Nebraska has published a list of 38 clergymen — including 34 priests — who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing young kids since 1978.
It’s important to note that the Church didn’t publicize this list of its own accord. It did so in order to comply with local authorities, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The archdiocese did so to comply with a request made in September by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson that all three Nebraska dioceses open their personnel files for review. That request came on the heels of a damning grand jury report from Pennsylvania in which some 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 minors over a 70-year period.
Also on Friday, Creighton Prep announced it had suspended a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Jim Sinnerud, from public ministry because of an allegation of sexual misconduct received this week. Prep said the report referred to alleged misconduct before Sinnerud’s tenure at Prep. He taught at Prep from 1987 to 2004 and more recently supervised the gym during lunch periods and served in priestly ministry. His name is not on the archdiocesan list.
The archdiocese noted that most of the cases on its list were old — predating 2002, when a bombshell report about Catholic priest sexual abuse in Boston forced the church in the United States to acknowledge two crimes: the sexual abuse of minors and an institutional cover-up.
The fact that Sinnerud’s name wasn’t on the list, combined with the Church’s emphasis on the “old” cases, tells us two things: 1) There are certainly other names that belong on the list and 2) They continue viewing older allegations as somehow less important, as if things are all better now so people shouldn’t make a big deal out of older cases.
Omaha’s Archbishop George Lucas (yes, really) reportedly said he will seek a “more specific code of conduct” for Church workers “so that our clergy and all of you will understand what’s expected of us as we carry out our ministry.”
That’s a great idea… several decades ago.
In the nearly five-minute video, Lucas referred people to the archdiocesan website for more details and apologized “on behalf of the people of God.”
“I’m sorry for what you have experienced in the church,” he said, adding: “We cannot change the sins or the betrayals of the past but we can acknowledge these ugly truths” in order to repent and avoid abuse happening again. He said the archdiocese has a zero-tolerance policy and that it is no place “for anyone guilty of abuse of a minor.”
The archdiocese submitted information on 24 archdiocesan priests with substantiated allegations of the abuse of minors or misconduct with minors. In all, documentation on 38 clergy was given to the attorney general in connection with alleged abuse or misconduct with minors as far back as 1956 but reported to the archdiocese between 1978 and 2018.
Lucas also added that, of the 132 currently active priests and 215 active deacons that he oversees, there is only one who is the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse. That’s still one too many, but his point is that whatever problems the Church had, the Church is now handling.
It’s nice to see any transparency from the Catholic Church, but keep in mind that it wasn’t part of the public record until government officials stepped in and made them do it. We will have to wait and see what else they are forced to give up.
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