In December 2018, a Jesuit order released a document highlighting child sexual abuse in its ranks. The Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits West) — a Catholic religious order — released a detailed list. This list publicly named dozens of priests and brothers credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Many of these abusive clergy members were assigned to Native American reservations and associated boarding schools.
Unlike some lists released by Catholic dioceses, this list includes the employment histories of the accused. In this case, the employment histories show a unique aspect of clergy abuse in Montana. Catholic church leaders in Montana regularly engaged in what is known as “priest shuffling.”
Priest shuffling is the act of moving abusive priests from one assignment to another. Church leaders engaged in this practice to reduce scandal and protect the reputation of the Catholic Church.
However, priest shuffling protected abusive priests from criminal prosecution. It also allowed abusive priests to continue preying on victims.
In Montana, abusive priests were often transferred to assignments on Native American reservations. This practice further endangered an already vulnerable American minority group.