Leaders of the Jesuit religious order plan to release a list of priests and other members Friday who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, including those who worked in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

The list, provided by the Jesuits’ U.S. Central and Southern Province, will follow a similar release last month by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, which named 57 priests and deacons who allegedly abused minors over the past several decades.

While some Jesuit priests who worked in New Orleans schools and parishes were named by the archdiocese, the order will also provide names of religious brothers and men studying to be Jesuits while teaching locally, which may expand the numbers of alleged abusers Jesuit officials had stationed in the area.

“It is my hope that through the publication of this information, we can work to rebuild trust, always with the well-being of victims in mind,” said a statement last month from the Rev. Ronald Mercier, the province’s leader. “On behalf of the Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern Province, I apologize to the victims for the pain caused by Jesuits in the past.”

The list from the Jesuits, which will cover the past 63 years, comes as Catholic leaders locally as well as across the U.S. have begun to recognize the need for greater transparency on abuse that occurred at the hands of the church over the past several decades.

Roughly a third of U.S. dioceses have released or plan to release lists, and Jesuit provinces covering much of the rest of the U.S. have made plans to make similar releases, according to the order's America magazine.

The release comes ahead of a review of all personnel files that the Jesuit province is having completed by Kinsale Management Consulting, a company run by retired FBI agents and law enforcement officers.

Kinsale was brought on as Catholic institutions around the country attempt to earn back the trust of parishioners during the latest aftershocks of a sex abuse and cover-up scandal that exploded in scope after reports in Boston in 2002.

The firm won’t have a comprehensive report of its findings about the Jesuit order until the spring, but by Friday the province will publish “a preliminary list” compiled internally of members who were working in the region in 1955 or after and were the subject of abuse allegations that officials consider credible.

Some allegations might predate 1955. They apparently will also involve men who died or left the order after that year.

The Jesuits — an order known for a commitment to education and social justice — are comprised of roughly 16,000 religious men, making them the world’s largest male Catholic religious order. Their presence in Louisiana mainly centers on running Jesuit High School and Loyola University in New Orleans.

They also run churches named Immaculate Conception in downtown New Orleans and north Baton Rouge, the Manresa silent retreat home in Convent, and a spirituality center at Grand Coteau. They previously ran Loyola College Prep in Shreveport but gave the school to the local diocese in the 1980s.

Six Jesuit priests were included in the list of 57 credibly accused diocesan and religious order clergy released on Nov. 2 by Aymond, a disclosure motivated in part by a Pennsylvania grand jury report this summer that exposed numerous previously unreported sexual abuse allegations involving hundreds of priests there.

Aymond said any allegations that resulted in the clergymen’s removal from ministry – or would have had they been alive at the time of the accusations – were considered “credible.” Mercier’s statement suggested his province would operate under the same standard.

Some cases that involved Jesuits had previously been publicized.

One involved Rev. Bernard Knoth, who resigned as president of Loyola in 2003 and left the priesthood after he was accused of sexually abusing a student at Indianapolis’ Brebeuf Jesuit Prep in 1986. Knoth has long maintained his innocence. 

Another was the late Rev. Neil Carr, a former Jesuit High School teacher who was accused of taking part in the sexual abuse of an adolescent boy named Richard Windmann in the 1970s. The case recently resulted in a $450,000 financial settlement.

But others were a surprise, such as the late Rev. Donald Pearce, a former president at Jesuit High School, who in recent years was accused of abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1960s.

Aymond’s list did not include names such as Claude Ory, a religious brother, and Donald Dickerson, who taught while studying to become a priest. Both worked at Jesuit High in the 1970s and were targeted by lawsuits alleging sexual abuse that prompted order officials to reach settlements with the accusers.

Aymond has said the archdiocese does not have files of religious brothers and similar personnel belonging to orders operating locally. He said it was up to the orders to release those names.

The Jesuits have not hinted at who may appear on Friday’s list, saying only that it won't include any information that could directly identify accusers.

“Many … have requested confidentiality,” Mercier’s statement said. “The province is committed to protecting the identities of these people so that there is no possibility of additional harm or stress.”

Jesuits' reason for keeping abuse claims against Donald Pearce quiet? His victim requested it

The Jesuits used to have a New Orleans province but then folded it into one based in St. Louis. In addition to Louisiana, the U.S. Central and Southern Province governs institutions and personnel in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, southern Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, the territory of Puerto Rico and the Central American nation of Belize.

This post was updated to clarify who compiled the list being released Friday. 


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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