The San Jose Diocese defended its initial report of 15 bad priests, countering that the extra 18 listed by a Minnesota law firm were either not connected to the diocese or, in three cases, were sent here without warning.
“The alleged incidents occurred, and the reports of abuse were made, in other jurisdictions and were not shared with the Diocese of San Jose,” a diocese statement issued Wednesday said of the three abuse cases from elsewhere. The diocese will reach out to the Diocese of Austin, where one of the priests came from, as well as the Jesuit West Province that had authority over two other priests “to get more information on these reports to determine next steps,” the statement said.
Eleven of the priests listed by Anderson & Associates in its report on Tuesday were part of the Jesuit order, which runs Bellarmine College Preparatory, Santa Clara University and the Jesuit retirement centers in Los Gatos and Los Altos, according to the diocese statement.
Even so, critics of the church say San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath has authority over any priest operating within its jurisdiction and should have done more to protect children in San Jose.
“The buck stops with the Bishop,” said Patrick Wall, a former priest who helped compile the report from the Los Angeles law firm. “Anything short of the Bishop accepting full responsibility for governance in the Diocese is cowardly shucking his responsibility as shepherd of the Diocese.”
After a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report of priest abuse in six diocese in that state renewed scrutiny on the church, the San Jose Diocese, in an effort at transparency, was the first in the Bay Area to investigate and provide a list of priests with histories of sexual abuse. The Oakland Diocese has promised to do the same, and the San Francisco Archdiocese is considering its options. The San Jose Diocese has also conducted a series of “listening” sessions at several local parishes to discuss priest abuse and child safeguards.
While the San Jose Diocese said it was “heartbreaking to see the list of so many who have betrayed and abused,” critics of the church responded Wednesday that the latest diocese statement is “smoke and mirrors” for behavior it either knew about or should have known about.
“This attempt at downplaying the amount of molesters by leaving these offenders off the list is intentional and misleading, and does not serve survivors or the public well,” said Joey Piscitelli, a survivor of priest abuse who works with SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It’s deceitful.”
Full story at San Jose Mercury News.
The San Jose diocese has issued a statement saying, in part: “The majority of the discrepancy between the Anderson & Associates report and the Diocese of San Jose report can be attributed to religious order priests who were in Santa Clara County, but were not assigned by the bishop of San Jose or, in earlier years, by the Archbishop of San Francisco.” See more here.