Are Bishops Living Up to Their Repeated Pledges of ‘Transparency’ in Clergy Abuse Cases?

| Mar 5, 2021 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Are you wondering “Are bishops living up to their repeated pledges of ‘transparency’ in clergy abuse cases?”  If so, you’ll want to keep reading.

After years of pressure, most Bishops in the United States have posted lists of their ‘credibly accused’ predator priests on their diocesan websites. (Those lists should also, of course, be posted on parish websites, which are far more popular with church-goers.)

But we at Horowitz Law are skeptical about these lists. We know most of them are not complete. We know lots of helpful information – work histories, photos, last known whereabouts, etc. – is missing from the majority of these lists.

Beyond that, however, we also suspect bishops have a quiet, ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ saying “Let’s try to make sure a predator is only listed in one place.”

In other words, if a child molesting cleric from New Jersey is quietly shuffled off to New York, and then caught abusing again in the Big Apple, very often you’ll find his name on only ONE of the two dioceses. And we don’t think that is a coincidence.

If the Catholic hierarchy feels they must – again, under pressure – divulge names of wrongdoers, it serves their interests as little as possible. (That’s why one has to spend a few minutes searching for these lists. They don’t immediately pop up on page one of the diocesan websites.)

Why do we suspect this? Well, look the Fall River Massachusetts dioceses, which did one of the more recent disclosures.

Dozens of proven, admitted or credibly accused Massachusetts molesters were ‘outed.’ But the only work locations for them provided were locations INSIDE the diocese itself.

Just a little bit of on-line research, though, shows these dangerous men also worked in other places:

New York (Fr. Frank Genevive)

Florida (Fr. Thomas J. Mulryan)

Connecticut and Massachusetts (Fr. Francis J. McManus)

Texas and Japan (Fr. Roland “Rene” Gaudin)

California, Minnesota, Washington DC and the Bahamas (Fr. James R. Nickel).

In a category, called “other dioceses,” the diocese lists two more child molesting clerics in an odd, inconsistent way.

One is Fr. Anthony Andre Corbin who, Fall River officials say, also worked in North Carolina.

The other is Fr. George Carrier. But Fall River officials inexplicably refuse to say where he worked.

Finally, in the ‘pending cases’ category, Fall River lists a Fr. James F. Buckley. He had his faculties suspended but diocesan officials won’t say when. He retired in 2001.

But only now, 20 YEARS LATER, is Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha moving to have him defrocked.

(He worked at St. Margaret’s in Buzzards Bay. He had also been assigned to St. Mary Cathedral, Fall River; Sacred Heart, Fall River; Immaculate Conception, Fall River; St. Joan of Arc, Orleans; St. Augustine, Vineyard Haven; Holy Redeemer, Chatham.)

So much for those promises of ‘openness and transparency’ about abuse the church hierarchy repeatedly trots out.

We’ll never know how many boys and girls these predators hurt OUTSIDE of Massachusetts.

Before we close out here, a bit of context is in order.

Fall River isn’t just any old Catholic diocese. In the late 1980s, the first pedophile priest to garner national attention was in Louisiana’s Fr. Gilbert Gauthe.

In the early 1990’s, the second pedophile priest to generate coast-to-coast headlines was in Fall River. He was Fr. James R Porter. Besides Massachusetts, he molested in New Mexico, Minnesota, Texas and Nevada.

And which diocese is right next to Fall River? Boston, which is where decades of cover up, involving hundreds of predator priests and at least dozens of enablers, first came to light in 2002. (Remember the film Spotlight?)

Why is this relevant?

Because if any Catholic officials anywhere have the damage of both abuse AND cover up, it should be officials in Fall River.

And if any Catholic officials have had tons of time to make reforms, again, it’s church officials in Fall River.

Yet Fall River was among the very last United States dioceses to release a list like this one, and as we’ve noted, it’s far less thorough and helpful than it should be.