AP file photoArchbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco addresses the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Church's activities to promote the defense of marriage at the group's annual fall meeting in Baltimore.

Archdiocese of San Francisco reports instances of alleged clerical abuse, but has yet to release names

The Archdiocese of San Francisco has revealed that six instances of alleged sex abuse of minors by clergy were reported in the 1990s and three in the year 2000, according to an initial review of personnel files dating back to the 1950s.

The review follows a lawsuit accusing the Vatican of actively covering up sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

The lawsuit was launched by two survivors of clerical abuse last month with the help of the Minnesota-based law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates. Also in October, the firm released a report implicating more than 200 Bay Area priests in allegations of sexual misconduct in recent decades, including 135 priests connected to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

RELATED COVERAGE: Lawsuit seeks to force Vatican to name thousands of predatory priests

According to the preliminary review, no allegations of clerical abuse of minors were “said to have occurred” since 2000, according to a letter published by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Nov. 15.  

It was not immediately made clear how the Archdiocese of San Francisco will proceed on investigating the nine reported allegations of sexual abuse revealed by the initial review.

Following the law firm’s report, which is based on a decades-long investigation into alleged sexual misconduct and cover-up by the Church, the lawsuit is an attempt to uncover the names and files of some alleged 3,400 perpetrators stored in the Vatican.

Last month, the Diocese of San Jose named 15 priests accused of sexually abusing minors.  A similar list of names of “credibly accused” clergy was expected to be made public by the Diocese of Oakland last week, but the diocese reported this month that it had postponed publishing the names until after Jan. 1.

The Oakland diocese stated it needed more time to verify information on the accused priests and get in touch with survivors.

San Francisco Archdiocese spokesperson Mike Brown told the San Francisco Examiner last month that Cordileone also planned to release a list of accused clergy at the end of November, following a series of town hall meetings to gather information on the abuse and input about next steps.

It is unclear, however, if that timeline will be honored. Jan Potts, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Archdiocese, did not return a request for comment on whether or not the archdiocese still planned to make such a list public.

Instead, she pointed the Examiner to Cordileone’s letter, which was published to the Archdiocese’s website earlier this month. In the letter, Cordileone stated that an “outside, independent consultant” is being engaged to “review all priest personnel files held by the Archdiocese from 1950 to the present.”

“That review will include any allegations received since that time and how they were handled,” Cordileone wrote. “This will be a review of the files of perhaps 4,000 clergy personnel who have worked within the Archdiocese during that time period.  This work will take a while, and when it is done, I will report back the results to the Archdiocese.”

In addition, the Archdiocesan Independent Review Board is advising Cordileone “on any allegations of sex abuse of minors by Church personnel,” in addition to reviewing and advising the archbishop on current policies and procedures governing reporting abuse.

Current policies require church employees and volunteers who have regular contact with minors to be subjected to background checks, and “all church personnel are informed that they are mandated reporters, and are trained on how to report abuse,” Cordileone wrote.

The board is also “monitoring priests who have been removed from ministry for having abused minors (even if just once),” according to Cordileone.

Cordileone said in the letter that he was initially “surprised” with a request made by Pope Francis that U.S. bishops “delay implementing any new provisions until after he meets in February with the presidents of the various Bishop Conferences throughout the world.”

“While this initially came as a disappointment, we have to trust the wisdom of our Holy Father, who sees the wider vision of the Universal Church,” Cordileone wrote.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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