Two Jesuit priests who served at the St. Stephens Mission in Wyoming were included on a list of clergymen who had faced “established allegations of sexual abuse of minors,” the Jesuit religious order announced Friday.
The priests, Anthony J. Short and Paul C. Pilgram, were two of 42 clergymen on the list released Friday by the Central and Southern Province of the Jesuits. Pilgram served at St. Stephens in the 1970s; it’s unclear when Short was there. He was ordained in 1971, and St. Stephens was his third posting.
Both priests served at St. Stephens for two years, which is on the Wind River Indian Reservation. A spokeswoman declined to provide specific dates, citing the confidentiality of the alleged victims.
According to a history of the mission posted on the Diocese of Cheyenne’s website, Short arrived and became pastor in 1974. He stayed until August 1977. Star-Tribune articles from the 1970s refer to him as the superintendent of St. Stephens Indian School.
According to Star-Tribune archives, Short would later return to the mission in the 1980s to serve on its “pastoral and religious education team.”
The list offers no details about where the abuse allegedly occurred but does provide a time frame and categorizes the priests by how many victims they allegedly had: Pilgram allegedly abused more than one minor from the 1970s to the 1990s, while Short faced a single allegation of abuse dating to the 1970s.
Both priests have been removed from the priesthood. Pilgram was removed in 2003 and Short followed in 2008.
Therese Meyerhoff, communications director for the Jesuit’s Central and Southern Province, said by phone Friday that she could not specify where the abuse was alleged to have occurred. She said the province had made the decision not to release that information in an attempt to protect the privacy of the survivors.
Meyerhoff said the province has worked hard to ensure the safety of its parishioners. She said no Jesuits serving in public ministry have credible accusations against them.
“Clearly this is something that —” Meyerhoff said, pausing. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Both priests spent extensive time in Jesuit high schools. After leaving St. Stephens, Pilgram worked at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Missouri; Regis Jesuit High School in Centennial, Colorado; and Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Short also worked at St. Louis University High before coming to Wyoming, and then went to Regis High.
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The Midwest Province, which includes Wyoming, will release its own list on Dec. 17. A spokesman for the province was not immediately available to comment Friday.
The names were released Friday by Roman Catholic Jesuit provinces covering nearly half the U.S. as part of a list of more than 150 priests and other ministry leaders found to have “credible allegations” of sexual abuse made against them dating to the 1950s.
Of the 153 men named in all, four are still members of the Jesuits U.S. Central and Southern Province. None remain as members of Jesuits West.
Many of the men on the two lists have died and others have been dismissed of ordination, officials said. Most of the men on the lists were priests.
The Jesuits are a Catholic order that includes more than 16,000 men worldwide. Jesuits also operate several high schools and universities. Jesuits take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and many also take a vow of allegiance to the Pope.
The Jesuits have previously settled lawsuits across the country, including a $166 million settlement involving about 500 abuse claims in Oregon in 2011, which was one of the largest settlements involving clergy abuse allegations.
The announcement comes the same week that the Diocese of Cheyenne announced it was reviewing its files going back to 1950 and will release the names of all priests, bishops and deacons with credible sexual abuse allegations. Catholic dioceses across the country, including in Alabama and Missouri, have been releasing similar lists detailing decades of abuse at the hands of clergymen.
The former head of the diocese, Bishop Joseph Hart, is facing three allegations of sexual abuse from his 25-year tenure as the head of the church in Wyoming. He has denied those allegations, but the current bishop, Steven Biegler, previously ordered an investigation and has said he believes the accusers’ accounts. Hart previously faced allegations in Missouri, where he was a priest before coming to Wyoming. Several years ago, that diocese reached multiple settlements with alleged victims of Hart. He has similarly denied those accusations.
St. Stephens was previously under the control of the Jesuits but later came under the umbrella of the Cheyenne diocese. Rev. Carl Gallinger, the vicar general for the diocese, said Friday he was unaware of the allegations against the two Jesuit priests and that he was not sure when the mission came under diocesan control.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.