The Davenport Diocese has released its review of a half-century of records, following the filing of several court cases alleging priests sexually abused children in eastern Iowa Catholic parishes. Bishop William Franklin says it’s taken time to get the scope of the situation. He came to the diocese in 1994, and most of the abuse occurred before then, and he says he needed to be updated on what was in the file and what the diocese can do with the info. The Davenport diocese resisted orders to release its records long after most had complied with an order from America’s Roman Catholic bishops, saying it would breach confidentiality. The bishop held a news conference to announce the decision to change the policy. Primarily the announcement was for the diocese and other people interested in what’s been done in response to the allegations of priests “mistreating” young boys, and he says it put in context how long it takes to give a meaningful message. Bishop Franklin says it took time to go through some 600 records going back fifty years in regard to priests and deacons in the diocese of Davenport. He says it’s a strong desire of his to protect the identify of the victims, and in working with them, many have not wanted to be identified. Because there were criminal lawsuits against the diocese over charges of abuse, the bishop says there were two conflicting orders he was told to comply with: One is the suits which said he had to turn over all information, and another was a national group he says only wanted numbers of cases and told the diocese to destroy all the rest of the information. The biggest surprise of the day was the announcement that five priests who’ve been named in accusations of molesting children will be defrocked — the diocese will recommend that they be removed from the priesthood, though the final decision will be made by the Vatican.
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