A victims advocacy group on Tuesday sharply criticized the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas for its “quiet disclosure” about a priest who church officials say has been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The allegations were revealed in a notice on Page 7 of the Sept. 11 issue of The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper.
“The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has recently received credible allegations of abuse of minors against Father Edward Roberts, a priest of the archdiocese who died in 1997,” the notice said.
The action angered leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“Shame on Archbishop Joseph Naumann and his top aides,” said the group’s national director, David Clohessy, in a statement. “They know it’s disingenuous to disclose this information in this very limited way. They know that a small notice in a Catholic publication reduces the chances that a deeply wounded, still struggling survivor will see and be comforted by this news.”
In the past, the archdiocese has published announcements in The Leaven and issued news releases to the media when priests have been accused of sexual misconduct.
The archdiocese said in a statement that “when a credible allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor and arising from the distant past is received, or when an allegation is raised against a priest who is now deceased, the archdiocese makes a public announcement in The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper, and asks all the parishes at which the involved priest had served to place an announcement in their parish bulletins.”
The Leaven goes to almost all of the registered Catholic households in northeast Kansas, the archdiocese said, and local secular media outlets regularly pick up stories from the publication.
“The archdiocese does not consider the publication of announcements in the archdiocesan newspaper to over 52,000 households and in parish bulletins as being ‘secretive,’ but the archdiocese would welcome the assistance of the secular media in further publicizing such announcements,” the statement said.
Clohessy said such announcements should be made “in the most open way possible.”
“It’s sad and ironic that this disclosure surfaces about 48 hours after Pope Francis said ‘abuse cannot be kept secret any longer’ and ‘all responsible will be held accountable,’ ” he said.
Roberts was ordained in 1941, according to the archdiocese, and was assigned to several Kansas parishes, including the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kan; St. Teresa in Westphalia; Sacred Heart in Baileyville; St. Gregory in Marysville; St. Joseph in Nortonville; and Holy Name in Topeka.
The archdiocese asks those with information regarding abuse allegations against Roberts to call its confidential report line at 913-647-3051; Dennis Schemmel, the victim assistance coordinator, at 913-909-2740; and/or local law enforcement officials.