NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As the archbishop of New Orleans prepares to release a list of those who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct in the Catholic church, victims’ advocates are praising the decision. This after church leaders have promised action to better protect children.
In August, Archbishop Gregory Aymond stood before a packed sanctuary for a Mass of forgiveness, asking forgiveness from not only victims of sexual abuse by church leaders, but lay people, priests and others.
“As a bishop of the church, I offer my sincere apology, and these are not empty words I can assure you,” said Aymond from the pulpit.
The archbishop promised action behind those words, and tonight, some victims' advocates are encouraged by what they describe as a step towards needed transparency.
“There is no reason to cover up or hide the names of priests, living or dead, who have been credibly accused of violating children,” said victims advocate and attorney Roger Stetter.
Aymond released a statement Oct. 12 saying they are examining clergy files dating back 50 years to release a list of credibly accused child sex abusers within the church.
The statement says: “We will publish the list as soon as the work is finished. It will be sooner rather than later.”
Stetter says the list can’t come soon enough.
“What’s happening is the conspiracy of silence to cover up for a bad priest is coming to an end, and that’s good because the only way forward for the Catholic church is transparency,” said Stetter.
Stetter says he has settled two of his clients' cases with the Archdiocese of New Orleans. With 14 other clients who say they were sexually abused within the church, he says a publicized list of credibly accused could impact those cases in negotiation.
He believes, however, that it’s likely the list won’t be comprehensive, simply because of how reporting abuse within the church has changed over the years.
“Credibly accused means that the priesthood found the allegations credible. There was no public hearing. There was no advocacy for the victim. There was no what we’d really consider a due process,” said Stetter.
Stetter says probably the most important role the list will play is how it could bring closure to those victims he represents.
“When they see the priest who violated them that he’s also been credibly accused for violating others feels validated, and that’s part of the healing process,” said Stetter.
Stetter has once again called for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to investigate the claims into the Catholic church. Landry has said in the past that state law does not give him the ability to do so but has instructed his office to assist in any local-level investigations.
We reached out to Landry’s office and are waiting on a response.