Catholic school to drop name of cardinal accused of inaction

BALTIMORE (AP) — A new Catholic school in Baltimore will no longer feature the name of a late cardinal accused of failing to act in the case of priests who abused children in Pennsylvania.

Cardinal William H. Keeler had a reputation for transparency as archbishop of Baltimore, releasing in 2002 the names of 57 priests accused of sexual abuse. But a grand jury report released Tuesday details widespread sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses. It accuses Keeler of covering up sexual abuse allegations while serving as bishop of Harrisburg from 1983 to 1989. Keeler also allegedly allowed an accused priest to minister in the Baltimore archdiocese.

In light of the “painful revelations,” Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said in a statement Tuesday that the archdiocese no longer plans to name a new school in Baltimore after Keller. The pre-K-8 school is slated to open in 2020.

Lori noted that Keeler’s letter accompanying the disclosure of the names of credibly accused priests “included words that are even more revealing in light of today’s report: ‘The simple, painful truth is that the Church did not go far enough to protect children from sexual abuse,’ the Cardinal wrote. ‘I humbly ask forgiveness for my mistakes. Please pray for me so that I may better serve.’” Keeler died last year at age 86.

A former altar boy sued the Diocese of Harrisburg last week, saying Keeler failed to protect him from now-defrocked John G. Allen. In the suit “John Doe,” now 29-years-old and living in Maryland, alleges Allen molested him at a Harrisburg church. Allen had been previously reported to Keeler for engaging in inappropriate behavior with boys, according to media reports. Allen’s name was on a list the diocese released earlier this month of 71 clergy members accused of sexually abusing children.

The grand jury found that Keeler presided over the Diocese of Harrisburg when it received complaints that Rev. Arthur Long had sexually abused children and Keeler was informed that Long had admitted to the conduct. But later, when Keeler moved to Baltimore, he granted Long permission to work there and reports of inappropriate behavior were received. Long went on vacation and didn’t return to his community and he has since died.

“The Grand Jury finds that this practice of transferring dangerous priests to other locations only expanded the pool of unknowing potential victims on which these offenders could re-offend,” the report states. “Such conduct endangered the welfare of children, Catholic parishioners, and the public.”