Today, I’m asking a judge to publicly release the names of 46 Minnesota Catholic priests who have been accused of sexually victimizing children.
My motivation can be summed up in two words: kids’ safety.
Sitting in two diocesan headquarters, and in the Ramsey County Courthouse, are the names of these accused predator priests. As best we can tell, none of them are locked up. Most are likely living with or near unsuspecting families. Some may still be molesting kids. And this afternoon, one of them may be tutoring a young girl who’s struggling in school, or taking a boy from a broken family to the movies, or babysitting for their own young relatives. And one of them might sexually assault an innocent child today.
Maybe a couple of these priests are infirmed. Maybe a couple of them are “false identification” cases. Maybe a couple of them have somehow been magically “cured” of their sexual difficulties.
But common sense tells us that most of them, maybe all of them, should be considered dangerous. And common sense tells us that parents, parishioners and the public should know who they are so that they can protect their children.
I’m basically asking the same judge who agreed to keep these names under seal last year to reverse himself. So our odds of success today may seem slim. But I feel it’s my moral duty to try, especially because of what we’ve seen and learned over the last year.
Just yesterday, for example, the Irish government released a 400 page report that shows church officials there “covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009.” And just weeks ago, in Kansas City, a bishop admitted that, for 5 months, he kept hidden hundreds of photos of kids taken by a priest that police consider child porn. (That priest, Fr. Shawn Ratigan, is now behind bars and faces criminal charges.) And just months ago, in Philadelphia, a grand jury concluded that the Cardinal there “continues to engage in practices that mislead victims, that violate their trust, that hinder prosecution of their abusers and that leave large numbers of credibly accused priests in ministry.” When I read about these frightening disclosures of continuing recklessness by Catholic officials, I compelled to step up my own efforts to protect kids. And I’m convinced that getting the names of dozens of alleged child molesting clerics out into the public eye would prevent at least a few children from suffering as I have suffered.
Let me end with a simple question: Why should high ranking Catholic officials who keep on protecting predators and endangering kids, be given permission by a court to continue this irresponsible secrecy?