Duluth's top Catholic official continues to maintain the same secrecy about accused priests that long has plagued the church. As a result, some parishioners are misinformed and feel betrayed while some alleged victims feel discouraged and intimidated.
After months of inquiry, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth said Fr. William Graham was "credibly accused" of abusing a child ("Diocese names two Duluth priests as 'credibly accused,'" Aug. 6).
It's true a jury made a puzzling ruling in this case, finding for both the accused and the accuser ("Split verdict in Duluth priest's suit against accuser," Aug. 25). But it's also true that Duluth Diocese Bishop Paul Sirba, who could have shed much light on the situation, did not testify.
Regardless, some churchgoers continue to defend Fr. Graham. I certainly understand their feelings. One of my brothers this month was listed as a former priest credibly accused of sexual abuse in Missouri.
What should happen now with regard to Fr. Graham? The bishop should make public his file on Graham and the names of his review board. He repeatedly has pledged to be transparent in such matters. He should meet with and take questions from parishioners. And he should insist they stop making public comments that criticize Graham's accuser. Such callousness makes the church more dangerous by deterring others from speaking up who see, suspect, or suffer misdeeds.
Duluth-area Catholics also can take five minutes to read a document on the website SNAPnetwork.org called "What to do when your priest is accused."
By showing leadership, disclosing facts, and educating his flock, Bishop Sirba can and should help all sides become more healed and all children become more secure.
St. Louis, Mo.
The writer is the former director of SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He was molested as a child by a priest.