Controversy rocked the Catholic Church in 2018 after widespread abuse, and subsequent coverups, were revealed to the public.
It began in August, when a grand jury in Pennsylvania reported seven decades of abuse and coverups. One former local priest, Fr. Raymond Lukac, was named in the report, citing his time with the Diocese of Greensburg in PA.
The subsequent months saw dioceses around the country coming clean, releasing the names of priests who had been credibly accused of such abuse or harassment. In late October, the Diocese of Steubenville released the names of 16 priests and a seminarian who had been credibly accused of or admitted to sexual abuse of a minor.
“It wll help survivors of sexual abuse find the strength to come forward and these innocent victims can begin the process of healing,” said Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton. “I pledge to do everything possible to protect our youth.”
The list includes allegations spanning seven decades, with the most recent allegation including a seminarian who was dismissed from his studies in 2016, and convicted that July of attempting to cross state lines “with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person who had not attained the age of 12 years.”
“I say to the victims and to all, for the actions of those with the care of souls who have acted in these horrible ways, as your bishop, I am very sorry,” said Bishop Monforton.
A few weeks later, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston followed suit, releasing the name of 31 accused priests.
“We hope the release of this list,” said Archbishop William E. Lori, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, “will be one of many steps taken to restore trust with parishioners and the broader community in West Virginia. We hope people see the release of this list as a sign of good faith that the diocese is committed to transparency, accountability and to providing a safe environment for children and adults.”
However, not included in the list was Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned over his own allegations. William Lori, the Archbishop of Baltimore, took over his post, and was instructed by Pope Francis to investigate the allegations.
“My primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time,” Archbishop Lori said.
In response to the announcements, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has released a statement, warning both the Diocese and the Vatican against taking the allegations lightly.
“The pope has asked an archbishop to look into charges that a bishop has sexually harassed adults,” said Judy Jones, SNAP’s Midwest Regional Leader. “One prelate ‘investigating’ his colleague is little progress.”