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Publishing list a good start in regaining trust

The Steubenville Diocese, which includes some parishes in Washington County, has made an important and welcomed announcement. It will publish the names of priests in the diocese against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse have been made, and who have been removed from active ministry.

Good. It is encouraging to see such a move. Too much damage has been done already, because that information was kept in the dark.

Bishop Jeffery Monforton appears to have decided to do the right thing.

“He wants to get the trust back in the church,” said diocese communications director Dino Orsatti. “So much has been lost in different investigations over the years, and we want to make sure we are as open as possible.”

There is some question as to whether the diocese will publish the names of priests who are no longer living. If it truly wants to be as open as possible, it should.

“Even if the priest is dead, it helps the victims know they are not alone,” said Judy Block Jones, Midwest regional leader for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

According to Orsatti, the diocese already knows there may be legal consequences in publishing this list. Likely seeing names on the list will prompt more to come forward with allegations of abuse.

“It’s reality,” he said. “There’s a concern if it involves legal expenses, but this is what we want. It’s the reason we are releasing these names. We take these allegations very seriously, and if we can help people come forward and help them, that’s what we want, to give them counseling and help.”

Counseling is important, yes. But it is essential the diocese follow through on it plan to forward names to county prosecutors — and for those prosecutors to do their jobs in ensuring criminal priests become more than just unemployed.

This is the start of shining the light. It must not be the end.

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