On Dec. 17, the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus released a complete list of Jesuits with credible allegations of child sexual abuse since 1950. Seven of the Jesuits included on the list were previously affiliated with the university or Loyola’s Jesuit Community. This list includes John F. X. Bellwoar, Louis A. Bonacci, Francis C. Bourbon, H. Cornell Bradley, Arthur J. Long, Garrett D. Orr, and Claude L. Ory.
According to a letter that prefaced the list, the Maryland Province asserts a “strict zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and reports to civil authorities accusations of sexual abuse involving a minor” and views this disclosure of their “shameful history as part of [their] commitment now to preventing abuse.” This policy has only been enforced by the Province since 2002.
As a Jesuit institution, the resurgence of the Catholic Church in the child sexual abuse limelight has caused much pain and change-oriented action within the Loyola community. In mid-October, Campus Ministry, the Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ), and the Women’s Center hosted a day of prayer for survivors of sexual abuse. The day culminated in a vigil that allowed for the community to gather and confront their feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration towards the issue.
“Not only was the vigil an important part of the healing process for those directly involved in the sexual assault crisis in the Catholic church, but it was also insightful for those who may not know about the recent allegations,” Kaitlyn Quigley ‘22 said. Quigley attended the vigil and also serves as a writer for The Greyhound. “Holding the vigil was an important step for Loyola to take and I’m glad they did.”
Additionally, earlier this month, professors Dr. Frederick Bauerschmidt and Dr. Angela Russell Christman of the theology department hosted a panel discussion in the Alumni Chapel entitled “The Sex Abuse Catastrophe in the Catholic Church: Seeking a Way Forward.”
During the panel, President Rev. Brian Linnane said, “The responsibility of the authorities is to root [the issue] out and deal with it, not cover it up or be afraid that it will reflect badly on the institution.”
The issue of childhood sexual abuse has plagued the Catholic Church for quite some time now. In a 2002 Spotlight Investigation of the Boston Archdiocese, The Boston Globe exposed former priest John J. Geoghan, who was found to have sexually abused more than 130 parish children in the greater Boston area.
Just last year, in 2017, our very own Archdiocese of Baltimore was similarly defamed with the release of the Netflix docuseries The Keepers. The documentary recounts an investigation by former Archbishop Keough High School students Abbie Shaub and Gemma Hoskins, who discovered through an investigation of the death of Sr. Cathy Cesnik that the late priest A. Joseph Maskell sexually abused many students in their school throughout the 1960s.
In an email sent to faculty, staff, and administration following the Province’s release of the list, Rev. Linnane expressed full support of their decision and steps toward accountability.
“Only through transparency can we find justice and help build a stronger, better future as a Church and as a community,” Rev. Linnane said.
In the wake of this crisis, Loyola has tried its best to address the issues as candidly as possible to reflect the Jesuit values that are the foundation of our institution.
“Working in Campus Ministry gives me a chance on a daily basis to see how those values are truly lived out by students and faculty,” Campus Ministry Intern Claire Hammerschmidt ‘19 said. “The common values and beliefs shared between Jesuit institutions and throughout religious communities help us learn from each other and lift each other up in times of crisis.”
Despite the visible effort that Catholic authorities are making to address these scandals and end the culture of impunity that surrounds it, there is still some skepticism from the larger community about whether or not the Church is continuing to protect these perpetrators.
“If the Jesuits aren’t including guys we already know about on their lists, then I don’t have a lot of confidence that they’re including the guys that nobody knows about yet,” said Terence McKiernan, president and co-director of the BishopAccountability watchdog website.
The release of these names is only the beginning of a long journey toward justice for those who have suffered at the hands of these abusers. Continual support from the Loyola community and loved ones is crucial to survivors’ ultimate healing.
“Recovering from a sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone,” Counseling Center Director Jason Parcover said. “There is no timetable for healing and it can be very important to connect with resources to help you navigate the process.”
If you or someone you know has suffered from childhood sexual abuse, The Counseling Center (410-617-CARE; HU150) or Women’s Center (410-617-5844; 4504A Seton Court) can help provide or connect you with the appropriate resources.
The Maryland Province Office Victim Assistance Coordinator can also be reached via telephone at 443-370-6357 or via email at MARadvocacy@jesuits.org. The Province can be reached in writing at the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, 8600 LaSalle Road, Suite 620, Towson, MD 21286.
Photo Courtesy of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus website.
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