The list of Catholic priests with ties to our area who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors continues to grow but at a snail's pace. The Fall River Diocese is clearly making an effort to deal with the problem but must find a way to expedite the process more quickly.

In the last three weeks alone, three retired priests have been suspended by the Diocese due to allegations they sexually molested someone's kids decades ago. WBSM News reports that Father Herbert T. Nichols, Father James F. Buckley, and Father Edward J. Byington have been suspended by the Diocese "in response to information gathered during an evaluation of priestly personnel files pending further investigation, as required under its policies." Some of the allegations have been referred for criminal investigation.

In May of last year, Father Bruce Neylon was removed, and last November Father Daniel W. Lacroix was placed on administrative leave.

"Nothing is more important than the welfare of all members of our diocesan community, especially anyone who has been harmed or impacted by abuse in any way," said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha in a statement. "The Diocese of Fall River remains committed to resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults."

To that end, the Diocese last year hired an independent consultant to complete a comprehensive evaluation of its files. The commitment shows the Diocese is indeed taking the problem seriously but it needs to move faster. Each time a priest is suspended or referred for criminal investigation, old wounds are re-opened for many who suffered at the hands of these monsters.

This worldwide crisis of debauchery involving children and the attempt to cover it up by the church hierarchy has left many of the faithful broken and the church itself in tatters. The scars of this scandal can be measured in vacant church and school buildings throughout the land and in the faces of those who entrusted the men of God only to be gravely disappointed.

The healing process cannot effectively begin until church leaders can assure the masses that everyone responsible for offending or covering up for those who did has been brought to justice to the degree possible.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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