Rev. John Anthony Salazar, a Roman Catholic priest, is in the news again as he awaits trail on a child molestation charge in Texas. His case is troubling as he was convicted of child molestation in Los Angeles and banned from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for life when he was hired in Texas. Evidence suggests at least four more children were molested over his 11 years in working there.
There is a call for transparency in this and other cases.
Many details of Salazar's past are contained in a confidential personnel file that was among 120 such files the L.A. Archdiocese made public this year after a legal battle with abuse victims. But those records tell only part of the story.
On Tuesday, attorneys return to court to argue over the release of records for about 80 priests, including Salazar, who belonged to religious orders that kept their own personnel files on accused clergymen.
The hearing will address in what form and when those files will be made public and involves orders such as the Jesuits, Salesians, Vincentians and Dominicans.
Transparency is required if we are to understand the full scope of clergy sexual abuse, but transparency comes with a cost as it shows that the Catholic Church was complicit in the abuse and when to great lengths to protect its priests. So we fight in court for the release of documents… for years.
This case deals with religious orders within the Catholic Church. According to Ray Boucher, 25% of priests caused of abuse in Los Angeles belong to a religious order.
"These orders really have a primary role and responsibility in the transfer of pedophile priests," Boucher said.
About 25 percent of priests accused of abuse in Los Angeles belonged to religious orders.
Many had been loaned out to the archdiocese to help with a perpetual shortage of priests.
In some cases, Boucher said, the orders may have sent known pedophiles to work in the archdiocese in the same way that the larger church has been accused of shuffling around problem priests.
The Catholic clergy abuse is a globe-spanning stain. Transparency is best for everyone involved.