The Roman Catholic Jesuit province serving 12 Midwest states released the names of Jesuit priests who face "credible or established" accusations of sexual abuse of minors dating to 1955, including two from Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls.

In a letter, the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus Provincial Rev. Brian G. Paulson wrote that the group released the names "in the spirit of transparency and reconciliation."

"As we look back at our history, the failures of the Society of Jesus and the Church to protect those entrusted to its care fill our hearts with outrage, sorrow and shame," he wrote. "On behalf of the Midwest Jesuits, I apologize to victim-survivors and their families for the harm and suffering you have endured. Many of you have suffered in silence for decades."

It's the latest in a string of similar disclosures from Jesuit governing bodies.

Overall, the Midwest province identified more than 50 Jesuits, some of whom are deceased, with an established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, including the two who worked at Walsh Jesuit:

• Howard J. McDonough. The incident occurred in 1973, and he was dismissed in April 1975.

• Thomas J. Powers. The incidents occurred in 1985-86. He also worked at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, John Carroll University in University Heights and the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Mich. He was dismissed in July 2001.

Walsh Jesuit, which covers grades nine through 12 and has more than 1,000 students, issued a statement saying the Jesuits who worked there were reported to the province and local authorities.

"Walsh Jesuit puts the safety of its students first," the school said. "We continue to encourage students to approach any adult at Walsh Jesuit — priest, teacher, counselor, campus minister or staff member — to report any behavior that concerns them."

The school said it has a strict policy to report any suspected cases to civil authorities.

"Walsh Jesuit is equipped to provide counseling and pastoral support and keep the name of the accuser confidential," the statement said. "If the report were credible, we would suspend the accused person from his or her position and cooperate fully with the investigating authorities."

One Jesuit on the list, Emmanuel Briffa, was accused in 1957 while visiting friends in Canton. He was dismissed in December 1963, the list says.

The list also included 10 Jesuits who were named in a civil lawsuit, bankruptcy or grand jury report. Overall, 15 Jesuits who worked at schools in Ohio were named on the list.

The Midwest province encompasses parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Jesuits have previously settled lawsuits across the country, including a $166 million settlement involving about 500 abuse claims in Oregon in 2011, one of the largest settlements involving clergy abuse allegations.

Catholic bishops adopted widespread reforms in 2002 when clergy abuse became a national crisis for the church in the United States, including stricter requirements for reporting accusations to law enforcement and a streamlined process for removing clerics.

But a Pennsylvania grand jury this year made very clear that more changes are needed. In a nearly 900-page report released Aug. 14, the grand jury alleged that more than 300 Roman Catholic priests had abused at least 1,000 children over the past seven decades in six Pennsylvania dioceses. It also accused senior church officials of systematically covering up complaints.

The Midwest province encouraged anyone who has been abused by a Jesuit to contact the appropriate civil authorities and Marjorie O’Dea, director of the office of safe environment at 773-975-6876 or by mail at 1010 N. Hooker St., Chicago, IL 60642.

 

Includes reporting by staff writer Rick Armon and The Associated Press.