Bishop Richard J. Malone is planning to release a list later this morning of the names of priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
Malone alerted diocesan priests in an email Monday of his decision to disclose the names of priests that have been kept secret for decades.
Diocesan spokesman George Richert did not return multiple calls from late Monday and this morning. But a lawyer for the diocese, Lawlor F. Quinlan III, confirmed this morning that the list would be made public today, likely by noon. Quinlan declined to provide any further details.
Malone's email on Monday said the list would include "all priests of our diocese who were removed from ministry, were retired or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."
The bishop has been under growing pressure to provide a fuller accounting of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Diocese of Buffalo, following retired Rev. Norbert Orsolits' admission in February that he had abused "probably dozens" of boys in the 1970s and 1980s.
The bishop's email did not specify how the list would be distributed or if it would include the past parish assignments of accused priests or any other details of the alleged abuse.
Victims' advocates for years have called for greater transparency from the diocese, including the release of names of clergy alleged to have molested children. Withholding names, they argue, fosters secrecy that allows the abuse scandal to fester.
Diocesan officials revealed in 2003 that they had received 93 complaints of sexual abuse against 53 clergy since 1950. The numbers were part of a diocesan "self study" of personnel files that was mandated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in new norms for dealing with child sexual abuse cases. The bishops adopted the new standards in the wake of molestation scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston and in dozens of other dioceses across the country. Since 2003, the diocese has received 15 to 20 additional complaints.
Since 2003, bishops Henry J. Mansell, Edward U. Kmiec and Malone all stuck to the same script that they would not release names.
Malone said two weeks ago that he was reconsidering that policy after the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits admitted to The News that he had molested boys at multiple parishes in the Buffalo diocese. Orsolits was removed from public ministry in 2003 so that the diocese was in compliance with the national "Charter for the Protection of Young People," but his removal was portrayed then as a standard retirement.
Orsolits admissions re-ignited concerns that clergy sexual abuse in Western New York was more devastating and widespread than accounts provided so far by diocesan leaders. Orsolits admitted the abuse after a South Buffalo resident accused the priest of molesting him on a ski trip in the early 1980s. The admissions also prompted additional allegations against Orsolits, as well as new public accusations against other priests.