Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland has announced that the diocese will release the names of all clerics credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.
“I hope and pray the publication of these names will help the innocent survivors and their families in their journey to wholeness and healing,” he wrote in a letter dated Oct. 2 and released Oct. 7.
The list will include the names of diocesan and religious priests, as well as extern priests. Anticipated to be released in roughly 45 days, the list is meant to be as accurate as possible, the bishop said, noting it will take some time to verify information on international and religious priests.
Aformer FBI official known for advocacy for justice in clercy sex abuse, Dr. Kathleen McChesney, will assist in the review of clergy files and the audit of the diocese's process. Once the list is published, McChesney and her associates will fully review the files “to ensure our list is as accurate as possible,” Bishop Barber said. He said this second review will not be completed before Jan. 1, 2019.
Bishop Barber expressed hope that this list would help purify the Church and create a transparent environment.
“This is the latest step in the ongoing commitment of the Diocese of Oakland to stop the scourge of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults,” he wrote.
“This public accountability will allow you and others in our community to see we are keeping our promises. We have nothing to hide. It is the right thing to do.”
The bishop said the Diocese of Oakland has continually improved its accountability process, “utilizing background checks and mandatory safe environment training for all church employees and volunteers.” He also said the diocese welcomes regular audits from outside firms to guarantee all parishes and schools are compliant.
Bishop Barber expressed support for the mutual support group, No More Secrets Group, which has been meeting in the diocese since 2002, helping adult survivors through sexual abuses that occurred in childhood.
If anyone is aware of sexual misconduct by a clergy member or employee of the diocese, he asked them to make a report to the authorities or Stephen Wilcox, chancellor and victims assistance coordinator for the diocese.
“I realize other victims may step forward with new information. Any accusation will be fully investigated by our independent Diocesan Review Board. We intend to update our list as we receive new information.”