Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
I write to share information regarding a report prepared by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus relating to the crisis in the Catholic Church. In this time of difficulty, especially for those who have been harmed by trusted priests and religious leaders, we are grateful to those survivors who have courageously come forward to expose abuse.
In recent weeks, various diocese and religious orders have made public the names of members of the Catholic clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors over the past six decades. A Maryland Province report, released earlier today, identifies the Jesuits from the Province or who served in the Province and who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors since 1950. Four individuals named in the report spent time at Georgetown at some point in their careers: Michael L. Barber, S.J. (Georgetown University Hospital, 1976-1978); Martin J. Casey, S.J. (Georgetown University, 1997-2006 and Georgetown Jesuit Community, 1973-1997); Augustine J. Ferretti, S.J. (Georgetown University, 1944-1947); and William J. Walsh, S.J. (Georgetown University, 1966-1967, and Woodstock Theological Center, 1996-1998). None of these allegations took place at Georgetown and all four have been removed from the ministry or are deceased. You can read the materials prepared by the Maryland Province on their website. Information about Augustine Ferretti is available on the USA West Province website.
We appreciate the work of the Maryland Province to make this information available and, importantly, their efforts in recent years to strengthen protections for minors. In today’s announcement, the Maryland Province has also committed to an external audit of its files to ensure reviews are both accurate and complete.
This is just one step of many that will be important to rebuild trust and contribute to the transformation called for by survivors and the challenge articulated earlier this year by Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., the Superior General of the Jesuits, to promote “a culture of safeguarding vulnerable people” within all of our Jesuit institutions.
Our community will continue our work to respond to this moment through dialogue, reflection, and action, building on the convenings we held this past semester, ongoing conversations with members of our community, as well as actions taken by official Church bodies to address abuse. These actions provide the context through which we will form our ongoing response.
As we proceed in this work together, I encourage all members of our community to support one another and to report sexual misconduct and to engage the resources of the University when seeking support. Our University is deeply committed to preventing and responding to sexual assault and misconduct and to protecting the most vulnerable among us—let us all take part in this responsibility.
John J. DeGioia