The Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford has released the names of 48 priests it says have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. It is also appointing a retired state judge to review all of its personnel files back to the 1950s.
The archdiocese revealed that it has settled 142 claims from victims of sexual abuse, and has paid out more than $50 million as a result - about half from its general fund and half from insurance coverage.
Most of the claims date from before 1990.
Archbishop Leonard Blair said in a video statement issued through the archdiocese website, that the release fulfills a pledge he made last year.
“It is a cause of profound sorrow, and of soul-searching for me, that we bishops, the church’s pastors have often failed to grasp the spiritual and moral devastation that results from sexual abuse, either from a misguided attempt to save an abuser’s vocation or to shield the church from scandal,” said Blair.
Thirty-six of the 48 names released are priests who worked directly for the archdiocese. Twenty-three of those are now dead, and the rest are no longer part of the priesthood.
The others accused were working in Hartford at the time of the offenses, but from other diocese.
But an organization representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse says it's checking to see if the Archdiocese has left off names of known abusers. SNAP also issued a statement saying it wants more information released from the files that are held on the offenders.
Gail Howard, the co-leader of SNAP in Connecticut told Connecticut Public Radio, she wants more accountability.
"It is a positive step, but it is also too little, too late," said Howard. "The Catholic church has not lived up to its promises, given in 2002, to have a zero-tolerance policy, and to be as transparent as possible.
Howard would like to see a civil investigation by the state of Connecticut, as has happened in several other states.
Hartford joins more than 30 diocese around the country that have decided to release the names of abusers as a way to address outrage about the church’s role in covering up the problem.
Some of these efforts have been given more urgency in recent months by events in Pennsylvania, where an investigation begun by the state's attorney general's office resulted in the empaneling of a grand jury.