Monday, June 17, 2024

List of priests who were accused of sexual abuse not enough, says survivors group

(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

On Wednesday, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond made waves when it published a list of 42 names of clergy with “credible and substantiated” allegations of sexual abuse involving minors.

Some of the names were priests who were assigned in Catholic churches in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

One of the priests, Rev. Msgr. Joseph Thang Xuan Pham, was a parochial vicar at St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg from 1985 to 1988, his first assignment after being ordained, according to an online biography.

The “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,” or SNAP, claims on their website to be the largest, oldest, and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious and institutional authorities. SNAP has a Hampton Roads chapter, but its local coordinator, Wayne Dorough, was not immediately available for comment.

But SNAP’s executive director, Zach Hiner, made a public statement Wednesday both praising and criticizing the Richmond Diocese for releasing the names.

“It is always helpful for survivors when these lists are posted especially for those who may be suffering in silence. But what is not helpful is when lists are carefully curated to leave off names of priests who have been accused of abuse, but whose allegations haven’t been deemed by church officials to be ‘credible,'” Hiner said.

SNAP is calling on Catholic officials to go a step further.

“We urge Catholic officials in Virginia to not only go back to these lists and add any names that may have been omitted, but also to add work histories, information about current whereabouts and, critically, when the diocese first learned of the allegations and what their immediate response was,” Hiner said. “Only by including this information can we get a clearer picture of what went wrong in Virginia and what must be done now to protect children and prevent abuse.”

SNAP claims to have already heard from survivors in Virginia whose perpetrator’s name have been omitted.

RELATED STORY: Former Williamsburg priest named on Diocese list detailing ‘credible’ sexual abuse

“The man who abused me was listed on disclosures from both the Diocese of Richmond and the Diocese of Arlington, so I am experiencing some healing and validation,” said Becky Ianni, a survivor and SNAP leader from Virginia. “At the same time, I know there are other victims who are feeling angry, upset, and disbelieved when they see their perpetrator left off, and I am saddened that instead of feeling validated, they are feeling re-victimized.”

It is not clear whether those priests not included on the list were located in the Southside or Peninsula at any point.

Thirteen of the 42 priests on the Richmond list are now dead, and the rest have been removed from ministry.

Six have been criminally convicted.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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