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Jesuits release names of priests accused of sexual abuse, 17 with St. Louis connections

Catholic priests during an ordination ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in May, 2016.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A Catholic order has released the names of dozens of priests once accused of sexual abuse, including 17 who worked in St. Louis-area parochial schools and parishes.

Twelve priests on the list worked at St. Louis University High School and several others taught at other St. Louis-area parochial schools.

All were found to have "credible allegations" of sexual abuse made against them, according to the Central and Southern Province and the Western Province of Jesuits.

The religious order on Friday released the lists of more than 150 names of accused clergymen. The Central and Southern Province, which includes Missouri, published names of 42 men with ties to the province going back to 1955. It said four are still members of the province but are not active in ministry and live in supervised housing.

“The list we are releasing today will no doubt surprise or shock many,” Ronald Mercier, provincial of the Central and South Province, said in a statement. “This represents a sinful part of our history.”

Of the dozen priests with connections to St. Louis University High School, six are deceased. Many of the allegations dates back to the 1960s and others only as recently as the 1990s. The school’s president, Alan Carruthers, said in a message to parents that five priests had accusations made against them while at the school.

Carruthers called the ongoing alleged abuse by Catholic priests an outrage.

“My heart bleeds for those affected by sexual abuse at SLUH and nationwide, regardless of the time or era,” he said. “Nothing is more important than the well-being of our students.”

Two other priests were affiliated with Cardinal Ritter High School, which is run by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and two with De Smet High School, run by the Jesuits.

The Jesuits are a Catholic order that includes more than 16,000 men worldwide. They operate St. Louis University and St. Louis University High School. Jesuits take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and many also take a vow of allegiance to the pope.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, called the release of the list a long-overdue step toward transparency.

Jesuit priests are trained and administered by their regional provinces and not directly by an archdiocese.

The list of names is preliminary and the Jesuits said they have hired an outside agency to review more than 3,000 personnel files.

In a separate investigation, the Archdiocese of St. Louis in August handed over its documents on alleged abuse to Missouri State Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office for them to be reviewed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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