The Dubuque Catholic Archdiocese has released its annual report on allegations of priest abuse and what the church is doing to respond to the problem. The latest report names priests charged in lawsuits and other public allegations, going back as far as 1930 according to Joyce Connors, who heads the Archdiocesan Office for Protection of Children and Young People. Up to now the church resisted calls to name people charged with abuse, and Connors says the decision to release names was “judicious.” “We don’t want to be reckless about information, but we don’t want to be secretive,” she says.
So the list contains names of people named in lawsuits against the church, newspaper articles or other public sources, and she notes the report lists them in a kind of grid that includes other information like dates of allegations, when a priest was ordained, their dates of birth and death and who made charges against them. “If this were my story, I’d be mad, too,” Connors says. She hopes people will take a look at the information in the latest report, and instead of thinking of the church as a source of rotten things, will recognize what this diocese is trying to do.
Connors says Catholic schools and other religious education programs adopted a program titled “Virtues — Protecting God’s Children,” to teach protection and prevention in the classroom. It isn’t just about keeping them safe from Catholic priests, Connors explains, it’s aimed at protecting them from any abuser. Unfortunately there are many out there, and the schools hope to keep kids safe, “no matter who might be the perpetrator.”
The annual report shows more than 100-thousand dollars in legal and other fees were spent by the archdiocese in suits naming nine clergy members this year. Today’s report also includes more than 25-thousand dollars spent on counseling for victims, and more than 300-thousand in damage payments to survivors.