In a statement today, Archbishop Thomas Rodi of the Archdiocese of Mobile said each of the four Catholic dioceses in Alabama and Mississippi will publish the names of clergy and religious officials who were removed from ministry due to an accusation of abuse of a minor. The list of the Archdiocese of Mobile will include accusations since 1950.
Rodi’s move toward transparency comes after renewed pressure was placed on the Catholic Church in the wake of a sprawling Pennsylvania grand jury report published in August, documenting more than 1,000 child victims of 300 abusive priests. After child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was broadly exposed in Boston in 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which, among other things, recommends immediately removing any accused priest from ministry pending an investigation and reporting all allegations of abuse involving clergy to civil authorities.
In 2004, two years after the Boston sex abuse scandal broke, the Archdiocese of Mobile released its first and last comprehensive report on allegations within its own network, acknowledging 13 of its priests had been accused of sexual abuse of minors since 1950, with a total of 18 victims. The archdiocese also reported more than $700,000 had been paid in legal settlements, fees, victim assistance and other related expenses.
Using court records and what little archival news coverage exists, Lagniappe detailed many of those cases in September, although Rodi offered little context aside from an acknowledgement. It’s unclear at this time what additional detail may be provided by the forthcoming release of names.
“It is a time-consuming effort to examine each clergy personnel file from the last almost [seven] decades,” Rodi’s statement says. “This effort is underway and will be completed as quickly as possible.”
Rodi was named Archbishop of Mobile in 2008, transferring from the Diocese of Biloxi and succeeding 28-year incumbent Oscar Lipscomb (pictured left). Lipscomb remains in the Mobile today as Archbishop Emeritus.
Photos by Gabriel Tynes/Lagniappe.