A lay committee created by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has identified 52 former or deceased priests accused of sexually abusing children in Vermont. The names of those with substantiated allegations against them will be released as soon as next month, Bishop Christopher Coyne said Thursday night at St. Mary's Church in St. Albans.
About 75 people attended the first in a series of what the bishop calls public town hall meetings around the state this month.
The meetings are being held as the diocese faces a fresh investigation led by the Vermont Attorney General's Office into decades-old abuse of children at the former St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington.
The tally of accused priests includes those who worked in the diocese since 1960 and had at least one allegation of sexual abuse made against them. The list to be made public will not include all 52 names, Coyne said, because in some cases both the accuser and the accused are dead, and the allegation was never proven.
Coyne said the committee, which is examining church files, has another month or so of work to finalize its review. "The hope is that we will release the names of any priest that has an allegation that is then substantiated by the file itself," Coyne said.
Town hall attendees, most of whom identified themselves as Catholic churchgoers, asked Coyne about the sexual abuse scandal. But most of the 90-minute discussion focused on the myriad other concerns facing the church, including falling attendance and clerical celibacy.