The list, according to Bishop Murry, would go back "as far as we can."

YOUNGSTOWN  Bishop George V. Murry made his first public appearance Tuesday since his leukemia diagnosis, announcing he is "100 percent cancer-free."

After being diagnosed with acute leukemia in April, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown underwent four weeks of inpatient treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. He was released June 1 with a clean bill of health.

Murry said he will work on part-time basis for about two weeks before resuming his full-time schedule.

In addition to his health, Murry addressed the current sex-abuse crisis rocking the Catholic Church and announced that over the next two months the diocese would publish on its website the names of priests who have been removed due to sexual abuse.

The list, he said, would go back "as far as we can."

On Sept. 1, the diocese accepted the resignation of the Rev. Lawrence Frient, pastor of parishes in New Middletown and Lowellville, for his past involvement with a married woman. Murry said a new priest will be assigned to those parishes.

Frient previously served at St. Louis parish in Louisville, as well as churches in Niles, Kent, Austintown, Andover and Kinsman.

Murry, who has called for abusive clerics to resign, also referred to a diocesan-wide letter he released Aug. 26 that focused on scandals involving former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of seminarians and a shocking report out of Pennsylvania revealing that 301 parish priests committed child abuse over a four-decade period.

He said he supports allowing a qualified group of laypeople to examine McCarrick's files to determine how he was able to act with impunity, and Murry made several additional suggestions for reforms.

Contacting prosecutors

"At the same time, mechanisms must be developed to report allegations against other bishops, so that they can be adequately investigated and resolved," Murry said. "Secondly, last Wednesday, I spoke with (Mahoning) County Prosecutor Paul Gaines and assured him that if he decided to investigate our files of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, he would be welcome."

Murry said he plans to contact prosecutors' offices in the remaining five counties that encompass the diocese. He said privacy laws and confidentiality issues prevent a priest's personnel file from being available to the general public, but he asked a retired judge to review their files to make sure the diocese acted properly and that nothing was missed.

"He gave us a thumbs-up," Murry said, "Beyond that, it's up to Mr. Gaines and the other prosecutors if they want to examine the files. My point is, if they do want to examine the files, we are not going to object."

Murry noted that during his tenure when any priest has been removed due to credible abuse complaints all parishes and schools where he was assigned are notified in writing.

"What we haven't done," Murry said, "is put all of those in one place. And that's what we're going to do."

Murry again urged anyone in the diocese who has been the victim of abuse to notify law enforcement and the victims' assistance coordinator, retired Sgt. Delphine Baldwin-Casey, at 330-718-1388. All calls are confidential.

Baldwin-Casey, who has worked with the diocese eight years, formed one of the state's first family service investigative units while she was with the Youngstown Police Department. The unit was recognized by then-state Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

"One of our specialties was violent crimes against women and children," said Baldwin-Casey, who currently works with the Campbell Police Department. "I think it's so important, when it comes to children, to have a professional working with them. Although I retired, I maintain some of the expertise that's needed."

'I love priests'

Noting the diocese contracts with a private investigation company run by former FBI agents, Murry said there have been instances where abuse accusations turn out to be unfounded. He said the diocese has a track record for openness about how it deals with abuse complaints while protecting accusers.

"That's why I want to have these ongoing checks," he said. "To make sure nothing slips between the cracks."

In advance of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in November that will focus primarily on the issue, Murry said, bishops around the country have been making suggestions on how to improve how the church deals with abuse.

"I will advocate for the things I said in the letter, and these three points," he said.

Murry expressed regret that Catholics have left the church because of the scandal.

"I wish they would return because I believe that hearing the word of God and the Scriptures and receiving the Holy Eucharist is essential for our journey of faith, but I understand the frustration and the anger. Some of those people have written to me; some of those people have called, and I've tried to respond to them as best I can."

Asked to assure parishioners that it won't happen here, Murry cited the diocese's current "safe environment" program in schools and parishes and a diocesan office dedicated to its oversight. He also offered his support of faithful priests, and laments that the crisis has overshadowed their ministry.

"I admire them. I love priests. I love the priests of this diocese," he said. "Their work gets pushed off to the side. When I talk to parishioners, they talk about how much they love their priests in the parish. They will often say that they even have some appreciation for the bishop, but they don't have appreciation for bishops in general.

"I think we're responsible for that because (the scandal) was not handled well."

Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or

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