Innocent until proven accused.

When Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Delaware, released the names of twenty priests or former priests of his diocese who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse, I wonder if he imagined the following scenario as a possible consequence.

Members of two groups representing victims of abusive Catholic priestswent door-to-door in the neighborhood, distributing packets ofinformation accusing a former Catholic priest who has lived there for10 years.

"Community notification: Protect your children from a credibly accused serial sex offender," the packet's cover reads.

The 38-page sheaf of material contained information about Edward F.Dudzinski, 56, who last month was among 20 former priests accused bythe Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del., of sexually abusing children.He served in the priesthood in the 1970s and 1980s.

(snip)

"We are not talking about shoplifting here," called out PaulSteidler, a Reston consultant and a member of Survivors Network ofthose Abused by Priests. "We are talking about the sexual abuse ofchildren."

As Steidler spoke, a woman emerged from the house,carrying blue gift bags and frosted cupcakes to a worn station wagon atthe curb.

"Do you see what they're doing?" she said to theroommate, brushing aside SNAP members and journalists. "They're puttingthese things in people's mailboxes in our neighborhood."

Thewoman, who would not identify herself in an interview later, said thatshe and her 10-year-old son have rented a room in the house for thepast eight years and that she trusts Dudzinski. She said the groups'tactics are a violation of Dudzinski's privacy.

"It's veryupsetting for him because other than 30 years ago, he's never doneanything inappropriate," she said. "That's what I've been told, that'swhat I've observed, and that's what I believe."

The other group represented by the pamphleteers is Voice of the Faithful.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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