Diocese of Spokane reacts to priests accused of sexual abuse on Gonzaga Campus

Diocese of Spokane reacts to priests accused of sexual abuse on Gonzaga Campus
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Update: The Diocese of Spokane released an updated statement on Dec. 21, with two clarifying paragraphs. The additional information is as follows:

“These credibly accused priests living on campus had safety plans requiring such things as chaperones for any trips out of Cardinal Bea House and restrictions on their public ministry. In 2016 these men were migrated to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, where their safety plans continued.

Bishop Thomas Daly–who was installed in 2015–was not informed by the Jesuits or Gonzaga University that these men were living at Cardinal Bea House. After May 2015 any Jesuits assigned to the Diocese of Spokane or problems with Jesuits living in the Diocese of Spokane were discussed in the regular communications between the current Jesuit provincial, Father Scott Santarosa, and Bishop Daly. None of the Jesuits on safety plans were ever a topic of discussion.”

The Diocese of Spokane released a statement Thursday afternoon regarding the housing of priests, on the campus of Gonzaga University, who were accused of sexual abuse.

A list of the names of priests accused of sexual abuse was released earlier this month. It named more than 30 Jesuits, who at one time or another, were connected to Gonzaga University, Gonzaga Prep, Sacred Heart Medical Center, and Mount St. Michael’s.

It also revealed that many of the priests lived in retirement at the Cardinal Bea House on the campus of Gonzaga University.

Here is the Catholic Diocese of Spokane’s statement regarding the Cardinal Bea House.

The Diocese of Spokane shares the concern of those who are angry and saddened to learn that the Oregon Province of Jesuits–now part of the Jesuits West Province–placed Jesuits credibly accused of sexual abuse at the Cardinal Bea House on Gonzaga University’s campus without informing the Gonzaga community. According to files given to the Diocese of Spokane by the Oregon Province of Jesuits, these credibly accused priests were living on campus with safety plans requiring such things as chaperones for any trips out of Cardinal Bea House and restricting their public ministry. The reporting by Reveal and the Center for Investigative Reporting indicates that these credibly accused Jesuits were free to come and go on campus. This was an unacceptable situation.

In June of 2011 the Jesuit Provincial, Father Patrick Lee, informed then-Bishop Blase Cupich that seven priests with safety plans in place were living at Bea House.

Bishop Thomas Daly–who was installed in 2015–was not informed by the Jesuits or Gonzaga University that these men were living at Cardinal Bea House.

In the past religious order priests who wished to reside at Gonzaga University, but not actively minister, have been required to present a Testimonial of Suitability to the diocese. However, the policy regarding religious priests and priests from other dioceses (“extern priests”) has recently been revised. In December 2017 the Diocesan Safe Environment committee began the process of updating the policy for religious order priests and extern priests. The changes to the policy were approved by Bishop Daly in November 2018.

The policy now requires clergy–including retired priests–who wish to reside for more than 30 days in the diocese but not actively minister to complete a strict process. Under this new policy these priests from outside the diocese wishing to reside in eastern Washington must:

· present a testimonial of suitability letter, including a request for faculties, from one’s proper ordinary attesting that 1) he is in good standing and 2) nothing in his background precludes him from serving in a ministry with minors in accordance with Article I3, USCCB Charter

· have the above Testimony of Suitability letter approved and signed by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane

· provide proof of attendance in a protecting God’s children training consistent with Article 12, USCCB Charter

· sign the Catholic Diocese of Spokane Code of Conduct and Disclosure Statement

· complete a background check consent form

· pass the background check, the Diocese will process the check and notify the clergy member and his ordinary of any unexpected results

· additional background checks will be required every five years

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