Victim advocate: Releasing names of accused priests good start, but more needs to be done

Victim advocate says release of accused priests is good start, but more needs to be done (CNYCentral Photo)

It's a wound on the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse that will not heal anytime soon — many priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

On Monday, the diocese released the names of 57 priests in the local area with accusations that go back to 1950 in hopes of moving past the conversation of abuse in the Catholic Church that has been in the national spotlight since this summer's investigation by the attorney general's office of Pennsylvania, which claims more than 1,000 children where abused by more than 300 "predator priests" in Pennsylvania.

READ HERE: List of Syracuse Diocese priests accused of sexual abuse since 1950

"It was smart to release the names," said parishioner Bill Kinne. "We've go to pray and hope this will help heal and get over it."

For years, many have pushed for the names to be made public. Bishop Robert Cunningham said he decided to release the names after much reflection and prayer.

And even though the list of names is shocking, some say it might not even be half of the clergy who offended.

"Every parish probably had a perpetrator and that every Catholic in their lifetime attending church in the Diocese of Syracuse probably ran into a perpetrator," said victim advocate Patrick Wall.

Wall is a former priest and Benedictine monk. For the last 20 years, he has been an expert and advocate for those who were abused. Wall said the list only includes diocesan priests, but not the religious order priests who might have worked in Syracuse and then moved on.

SEE ALSO | Bishop on release of accused priests: 'We are committed to restoring faith'

He's calling for the diocese to release more names.

"This is a beginning and we've got a long way to go," Wall said. "I just hope that the diocese will do it willingly instead of waiting for a civil law firm or waiting for law enforcement to force them to do it."

But he does give the diocese some credit, saying that making the names public is a good step toward healing for the victims.

"They were asking for recognition that as a victim of crime it wasn't their fault and they didn't dream that it happened," Wall said. "That the diocese has known, that the diocese knows the name and the diocese has now called it credible."

Wall said a big concern of his are the whereabouts of the priests on the list that are still alive. He said their location should be made public to ensure no one else is the victim of abuse.

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