Bishop Won't Release Abuse Numbers

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA]
April 23, 2003

Worcester - Bishop Daniel P. Reilly told members of Worcester Diocese Voice of the Faithful that he will not disclose information they requested on the numbers of sexual abuse victims and abusers or the total financial costs associated with the church scandal.

With his written response, the bishop enclosed a clipping from The Catholic Free Press, which he publishes, that explained how he is dealing with the church abuse scandal.

Mary Keville of Harvard, Voice of the Faithful coordinator, said the response, which she got late last week, was a "non-answer" and "disappointing," and the group's leadership will have to decide what its response will be.

In February, Voice of the Faithful asked the bishop to disclose numbers of minors and women who were victims, the number reported to legal authorities, the disposition of all complaints and the number of confidential agreements reached with victims; the total financial cost to the diocese, including all settlements, services to victims, legal fees, and medical and psychological treatment of offenders; child support payments and what the sources of these funds were. The organization also wanted to know the total number of priests and church workers against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse were made.

Voice of the Faithful is a national organization of Catholic lay people and clergy that started more than a year ago in Wellesley. The local chapter was formed last fall and named Worcester Diocese Voice of the Faithful because its members come from parishes throughout the diocese.

Bishop Reilly said a "full public report" under supervision of the diocesan finance council has been made. The annual financial report, released in January, did not give all the information requested by Voice of the Faithful.

"I have told you personally that I will not be releasing any personnel files of the diocese. We have worked very closely with the civil authorities in this matter and will continue to do so," he said in his response.

The bishop said "good progress" is being made in helping victims of sexual abuse, and he referred Ms. Keville to Patricia O'Leary Engdahl and Frances Nugent, who staff the diocesan Office of Healing and Prevention. "I am sure they will be happy to speak to you about how you may be of assistance to them," he said.

"The Diocese of Worcester is hurting, but it is also healing. And that's the stage that we're at after all this year. For most of last year, we were hurting, just hurting. But now I can say the Diocese of Worcester is hurting, but it is healing. Healing takes time but I'm confident that we are on the right road," he said in the newspaper article.

Voice of the Faithful will meet at 7 tonight in the Rehm Library, just behind Hogan Campus Center at the College of the Holy Cross. Representatives of various groups that help victims of sexual abuse will attend to describe services they offer.

Invited groups include Abby's House, Linkup, Office of Healing and Prevention of the Worcester diocese, Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts, Speak Truth to Power, Survivors First, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and Worcester Diocese Voice of the Faithful Support.

Mary T. Jean, leader of Worcester Voice, who also will be attending tonight's meeting, said she is still trying to set up another meeting with Bishop Reilly to discuss being more open regarding abuse allegations in Central Massachusetts. She said the bishop told her recently that he would meet with her. "I intend to hold him to that," she said.


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