Important for victims to come foward

He was a teenager during the 1960s, my caller said. He had a driver’s license and access to a car, so friends sometimes asked him for rides. One asked every week.

They would drive to a Roman Catholic Church in our area, during the early evening. The friend would get out and go into the church. My caller waited in the car.

After awhile, the boy would come out of the church and get back into the car. He would have $20 in small bills. Of that, he gave my caller $5 for the ride.

A priest had paid him for a sex act, performed inside the church.

Another caller, this one a woman, told of listening to a crying high school classmate as he described being molested by another priest. He didn’t tell his parents, because they wouldn’t have believed him. He didn’t tell anyone in authority, for the same reason.

My two callers will be looking carefully at two lists, one made public last week, the other to be released by the end of this month.

If certain names are not on those lists, the man and woman who called me are going to be very upset.

One list was released last week by the Diocese of Steubenville. It includes the names of 16 priests credibly accused — in the church’s judgment — of molesting children. All worked in East Ohio at one time or another.

By Nov. 30, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is to release a similar lists of priests who worked in West Virginia or, perhaps, western Maryland.

Both dioceses have concluded the names have to be released, in view of revelations of widespread child abuse by Catholic priests.

What about cases such as those of which my two callers are aware? What if the priests involved were or are not on the lists?

My male caller doesn’t know the name of the priest who molested his friend. He does know where the church was located. More information about where the 16 priests on the diocese’s list served, and when, would help him know if the predator was caught.

My female caller does know the predator’s identity.

The church may not have the names in question. As far as my male caller knows, his friend, now dead, never told anyone else what was happening. The same may be the case for the priest who molested my female caller’s classmate.

That makes it all the more important that any victim of abuse by a priest come forward. Catholic Church officials really do seem ashamed of what was allowed to happen for decades. Prosecuting attorneys certainly would be interested in names that have not come to their attention previously.

What’s especially upsetting about the predator priest saga is this: How could so many people have known what was happening — and not stopped it?

Here’s a clue: A fellow editor told me the other day that after her paper published the list of priests provided by the Diocese of Steubenville, a woman called to complain. How could the paper do that to the church, she demanded to know.

This isn’t about the Catholic Church — or the many priests who serve their flocks in complete faithfulness to God. It’s about evil men.

So look carefully at those lists. If they’re incomplete, tell someone who can do something about it.

That would be a service to the church.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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