ST. LOUIS — The Marianists religious order on Wednesday released the names of 46 living and dead religious leaders who they claim sexually abused minors, the latest of several Catholic organizations to complete an investigation and publicly name the accused.
“For decades, despicable and evil acts of abuse committed by clergy and vowed religious of the Catholic Church dwelled in the shadows,” the leader of the St. Louis-based order, Oscar Vasquez, wrote in a letter posted on the Marianists’ website. “Hidden and ignored by church members and leaders, these abhorrent sins festered, stifling the light of our Church.”
Vasquez said investigators looked at files of 2,500 U.S. priests and brothers dating to 1950. Of the 46 names released, 32 are deceased.
According to the list published online by the order, 17 of the men were in the St. Louis Area and were assigned to schools, including Marianist private high schools Chaminade College Preparatory, St. John Vianney High School and St. Mary's High School.
An 18th man who was assigned to the St. Louis area was accused of possessing child pornography.
All 14 of the living Marianists determined to have committed abuse are on a “safety plan” and were permanently removed from the ministry, Vasquez said.
A safety plan details restrictions each member who abused a minor must abide by to remain a member of the Province. The plans prohibit unsupervised contact with minors and any form of public ministry. Unless the person is later exonerated, the safety plan applies for the rest of his life as long as he remains a member of the order's Province, according to the order's website.
“We pray that those in need of healing will find peace, and that this evil will never again darken the light of God’s church,” Vasquez wrote in the letter.
The Marianists, based in St. Louis, describe themselves as a “worldwide family of Catholic brothers, priests, sisters and committed lay people." One unique characteristic: Brothers and priests share equal status.
The order, founded in 1817, operates 18 secondary schools and three universities -- the University of Dayton in Ohio, Chaminade University in Honolulu, and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
All four Roman Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in Missouri -- the St. Louis Archdiocese, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese -- have previously released names of credibly accused priests.
The investigations followed the release of a 2018 report in Pennsylvania that cited the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests since the 1940s and the efforts of church leaders to cover it up.
Following the release of that report, Pope Francis vowed that “no effort must be spared” to root out clergy sexual abuse and he begged forgiveness from the victims.
St. Mary's High School President Michael England provided the following statement that was sent to families:
Dear Members of the St. Mary’s Community,
Today, the Marianist Province of the United States has published a list of names of Marianist members and former members, living and deceased, who were found to have sexually abused a minor in the United States since 1950.
More on the Marianists List Release, as well as additional information, can be found at marianist.com/healing.
As administrators, educators, parents, and most notably, Catholics, our hearts ache for those affected by sexual abuse at the hands of clergy and the vowed religious. This abuse has severely damaged the trust of the devout. Victims have suffered in silence for decades, and they need our full support as they seek justice and healing. We are very grateful that the Marianists are confronting these sins so that the healing and rebuilding of trust can begin.
In the last two decades, the Province, as well as the Archdiocese of St. Louis, have taken significant measures to ensure a safe environment for those with whom they minister. The policies and procedures are designed to keep those entrusted to their care safe and to prevent future abuse. You can find more on those policies from the Archdiocese of St. Louis on its “Promise to Protect” page.
Any victims/survivors of sexual abuse by a Marianist should report it to civil authorities, as well as the Pastoral Assistance Coordinator at email@example.com or 314-285-2322.
We pray fervently that those in need of healing will find peace and that this evil will never again darken the light of God’s Church. We invite you to join us as we invoke our patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, Queen of Peace and Mother of Mercy, please pray for us.
Stafford reported from Liberty, Mo.