Maryland report on Catholic Church expected to shine light on parishes and schools with multiple child abusers
Published in News & Features
BALTIMORE — The sanctuary at St. Mark Catholic Church was nearly full for 11 a.m. Mass.
A white-robed priest gave a sermon on the recent Sunday morning about a Samaritan woman who met Jesus at a well. Parishioners lined up to receive Communion. And as congregants flooded to their cars afterward, a few paused to share thoughts on an issue that could soon engulf the historic parish in Catonsville, Maryland.
Sometime in the next week or so, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office is expected to release its report on the sexual abuse of children and young adults by priests and brothers in the Archdiocese of Baltimore dating back 80 years. Its authors identify 158 men who abused and tortured more than 600 people between the mid-1940s and 2002, and describe the archdiocese’s efforts to protect abusers and silence victims.
A summary that appeared in a court filing in November said some sites were home to multiple predator priests, sometimes several at once, and that one congregation was assigned 11 over 40 years.
Only one parish is known to have been home to nearly that many, according to a list of offender priests the archdiocese keeps on its website: St. Mark’s, with nine.
One former member of the parish who is also a victim advocate says he knows of others who worked there — and that he told investigators for the attorney general about them during the office’s four-year probe.
That independent investigator, Frank Dingle, has no doubt the parish described in the summary is St. Mark’s, and he believes the count numbered in the attorney general’s report will grow.
“It’s not going to stay at 11,” he says.
St. Mark’s is not the only institution in the nine-county Baltimore archdiocese to have housed multiple abusers over the decades. A dozen were home to at least five, by the archdiocese’s count. The list includes urban and suburban parishes, high schools and a seminary.
All but one of the instances of abuse the archdiocese has on its list occurred before 2002, when church leaders implemented a policy of removing credibly accused priests from ministry. Earlier, they moved suspected or known offenders to other parishes, something the report says the church did regularly during the 20th century.
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