Catholic World Report

Chicago case highlights religious orders that have not published lists of credibly accused clergy

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Recent reporting from the Chicago Sun-Times highlighted several religious orders active in Chicago that have not released lists of members credibly accused of sexual abuse.

Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago had 2018 requested that orders active in his local Church do so.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has said that Cardinal Cupich intends to only list archdiocesan clergy accused of abuse, leaving each individual order to list its own credibly accused clerics.

The Sun-Times notes that the adjacent dioceses of Joliet and Rockford list on their websites religious clerics who are credibly accused of abuse and who are or were active in those dioceses.

Some orders active in the Chicago archdiocese, such as the Carmelites, have made lists of members credibly accused of abuse public. Others active in the archdiocese, such as the Augustinians and the Passionists, have not.

The Sun-Times report includes information about the case of Deacon James Griffith, a Passionist deacon who pled guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing a young boy.

According to the Sun-Times, Deacon Griffith resided in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston from 1988 until 2000. He then resided in Chicago at a Passionist monastery next to a school from 2002-2003, before moving to the Archdiocese of San Antonio until 2004, and then to the Diocese of Orlando from 2004-2007. He currently resides in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Deacon Griffith does not appear on any of those diocese’ lists of credibly accused clergy except Detroit, which added his name after the Sun-Times inquired about him.

While a religious order needs permission from a local bishop to engage in public ministry, an order’s members are governed by its religious superior.

The Missionaries of the Divine Word, which is based in Chicago, say they are in the process of compiling a list, while the Passionists told the Sun-Times they are “considering” publishing a list.

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