When we first became aware of the possibility of AB 218 resulting in lawsuits against priests alive and in ministry, claiming sexual abuse, we determined to be proactive to protect our children and young people, and to protect the reputation of falsely accused priests. We did this in an abundance of caution for those whom we serve, and for the priests who have a responsibility to continue their ministry to their parishioners and those in need.

At my direction, a former Assistant United States Attorney investigated the allegations made against both Father Mockel and Father Young and found the allegations were not credible. Given this, both priests have and deserve my continued support and have full ministerial rights.

I have been advised that since the plaintiffs have not come forward with any corroborative facts to verify their claims, the release of these priests’ names in connection with these lawsuits was done in violation of California law.

As a recent article originally published by the Chicago Tribune described, false accusations harm survivors who are already concerned about being believed, priests who have been falsely accused, and the parishes and entities which they serve.

For more than 30 years, even before the US bishops approved the ground-breaking Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Diocese of Oakland has been providing support to survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. The diocese also provides a rigorous safe environment program, which requires all volunteers, employees and clergy to undergo a criminal background check and be educated about the nature of child sexual abuse, how it is perpetrated, how to report it, and strategies for prevention. Both the background checks and training are repeated on a regular basis. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and health of our parishioners and everyone else associated and affiliated with the Church.

From Oakland Diocese statement