In a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Sacramento that will be distributed in parishes on the weekend of Oct. 20-21, Bishop Jaime Soto announced that he will release to the public and publish on the diocesan website the names of all priests in the diocese who have been credibly accused of abusing children and young people. He will do so with the guidance of a consulting firm known for its expertise in this work.
Following is the full text of Bishop Soto's letter. A Spanish translation is available at the bottom.
October 18, 2018
Dear Friends in Christ:
Several months ago, I wrote to you about the shame I felt over the sickening, repulsive actions revealed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and the actions of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. My heart, like yours, remains heavy as we continue to confront the painful, shameful evil perpetrated by priests and bishops who betrayed the trust placed in them by the People of God.
These vicious sins caused lasting pain for victims. The depth of this betrayal is difficult to fathom and painful to consider. But, I must confront it. I cannot wish it away or ever consider the issue closed.
I apologize for the grave harm done to these victims -- for the wounds inflicted by the abusers as well as for the failures to act in their defense when there was a duty and obligation to do so. I must own this shameful reality of our past and devote myself to atoning for it.
A fundamental step in confronting the past is to provide a public, transparent accounting of it. For this reason, I will release to the public and publish on our website the names of priests in our diocese who have been credibly accused of abusing children and young people. This review will include all priests who have served in our diocese over the past 50 years, whether permanently assigned here, visiting from another diocese, or members of a religious order.
Initially, I had hoped this list would be prepared quickly and released by the end of this year. It has become clear, however, that completing this task with transparency and confidence will require outside, independent expertise as well as additional time.
I am pleased to announce that we will have the assistance of the consulting firm recognized as the best there is at tackling this task and ensuring that dioceses live up to their promises of accountability. The firm is headed by Dr. Kathleen McChesney, a former executive assistant director of the FBI and a founding member of the Office of Child Protection at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dr. McChesney’s firm will have complete access to our files and the complete cooperation and assistance of myself and our diocesan staff. I anticipate the list will be finalized and released in March.
This reckoning with the past will be difficult for the faithful and particularly for victims of abuse. Some will be heartbroken. Some will be angry to learn that sinful acts were perpetrated in a parish or school they trusted with their children or grandchildren. Victims may find that seeing these names brings back the horrors of abuse and reopens old wounds.
I ask each of you to pray for the victims of abuse – always. As their pain is ongoing, so must our prayers for them be. This is not something we do for a period of time, but from this time forward.
The faith of everyone in our parishes – laity, religious, and clergy – has been shaken by these shameful crimes. May the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary strengthen us for the journey ahead with the mercy and wisdom of her Son, Jesus.
Restoring the trust God’s People put in the Church will be the work not of weeks or months or even years. Rather, it must be our never-ending mission. The present sorrowful saga is a painful reminder of the Christian call to continually make reparation and seek redemption. I have dedicated myself to this endeavor. I humbly rely on your prayers and patience as we face this together.
Bishop of Sacramento