2nd Ohio diocese to release abusive priest list

Mark Gillispie and John Seewer
Associated Press

Cleveland – A second Roman Catholic Diocese in Ohio plans to release its list of priests who have been removed from parishes because of sexual abuse and misconduct allegations by the end of October, The Associated Press has learned.

The decision by the Steubenville diocese, the smallest in Ohio with 34,000 members, comes in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report that listed the names of more than 300 priests and outlined the details of sexual abuse allegations.

Steubenville diocesan officials and attorneys will review files dating back to the formation of the diocese in 1944, spokesman Dino Orsatti said. He estimated that a list would include between 12 and 20 names.

Orsatti said Tuesday that Bishop Jeffrey Monforton wants the list released in the interest of transparency and accountability.

“He would welcome any investigation like the one in Pennsylvania,” Orsatti said.

The U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops approved a zero-tolerance policy called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002 in the midst of a national scandal over the church’s failure to address and, in some cases cover up, sexual abuse and misconduct by priests. The policy required dioceses to alert authorities when they learned of abuse allegations, conduct their own investigations and remove accused priests from their duties during such reviews.

The Youngstown diocese was the first in Ohio to announce that it would release a list. Youngstown broke off from the much larger Cleveland diocese in 1943. Monsignor John Zuraw has told the AP that while names of priests have been made public over the years, there has never been a complete list released. Youngstown Bishop George Murry believes there is a need for transparency within the church and wants to “assure the people of God that no one’s in harm’s way,” Zuraw said.

He said the diocese plans to examine the files of every priest who has served in Youngstown. It’s the diocese’s hope that revealing the names of priests could trigger someone memories of being abused prompting them to seek help, he said.

“This is what the church needs to do at this time,” Zuraw said. “To help people who were victimized and let them put their lives back together.”