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Jesuits delay naming suspected abusers

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  • October 29, 2020

OTTAWA -- The promise to release a detailed public list of all Canadian Jesuits who have been “credibly accused” of sex abuse has been delayed until at least the spring.

The Jesuits of Canada announced in December 2019 they would do what no other Canadian Catholic Church organization has done — release the names of priests “credibly accused” of abusing minors. It is a move clergy abuse survivor groups in Canada and around the world have been demanding for years. The Jesuits had planned to publish a comprehensive list by January.

Those plans, however, have been adversely impacted by the ongoing health crisis.

In a statement forwarded to Canadian Catholic News, the Jesuits’ director of communications Jose Sanchez said anti-COVID precautions have slowed the pace of reviewing historic cases and it may be well into 2021 before the results can finally be made public.

“The auditors have consolidated, digitized, reviewed and indexed a large part of the delegate, legal and personnel files of most Jesuits, particularly those that were the subject of complaints between 1950 and the present,” the statement said.

“Although they have made significant progress, the reality that our archives were closed for most of the spring and summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to process the final portion of these records. By the end of this month, independent auditors should have completed the digitization of all files and an information base to assist in the creation of a list. We estimate that both a list and the final report will be ready in the spring of 2021.”

Last December the Jesuits announced the order had hired King International Advisory Group to review all personnel and provincial files going back to 1950.

“We hear the voice of the victims of childhood sexual abuse in Canada. Lists that provide the public with information about these men are important to healing. It is the right thing for us to do in the promotion of institutional transparency and accountability, an important step to help correct the causes of the crisis,” said Fr. Erik Oland, SJ, provincial of the Jesuits of Canada.

“On behalf of the Jesuits, I apologize to the victims for the deep pain caused by Jesuits in the past,” he said.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has urged caution in naming the credibly accused, leaving it up to individual dioceses to make that decision.

The Vancouver archdiocese released a review of historic cases last Nov. 22 but only the names of priests who have been criminally convicted or were already named publicly in settled lawsuits.

Late in 2019, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, released the names of 36 accused clergy in the Diocese of London. The diocese said the list was “substantially correct,” while adding it can’t “confirm its accuracy in its entirety,” before adding four more names of priests to whom allegations involving minors have been made.

All Canadian dioceses have protocols in place to deal with abuse and reporting such instances to authorities.

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