South Jersey Catholics to Pray for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse
By Jim Walsh
Cherry Hill Courier-Post
September 25, 2018
The Diocese of Camden will hold prayer services for victims of the “awful” scandal of clergy sex abuse, Bishop Dennis Sullivan has announced.
The services will be held on two nights at seven South Jersey churches, said Sullivan, the spiritual leader for some 475,000 Catholics.
Sullivan will celebrate the first service at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at St. Agnes Church, Our Lady of Hope Parish, 701 Little Gloucester Road in Blackwood.
Additional 7 p.m. services will be held at six churches on Oct. 5.
The Catholic Church has faced renewed criticism after the release last month of a grand jury report on alleged clergy abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. The account found more than 300 priest had been credibly accused of wrongdoing over a 70-year period.
Two of the priests — John P. O’Connor and James Hopkins – had served in the Camden diocese.
“Amidst a scandal this awful, there are also prayerful things we can do as a community of faith,” Sullivan said in a statement Monday.
“These include the opportunity to ask God’s intervention that we may never forget our duty to protect the most vulnerable," he said.
The services also are intended to serve as an act of penance “for those who have been hurt by the Church and its leaders,” the diocese said in a statement.
The Oct. 5 services will be held at St. Joseph the Worker, 901 Hopkins Road, Haddon Township; Church of The Incarnation, 240 Main Street, Mantua; and St. Andrew the Apostle, 27 Kresson-Gibbsboro Road, Gibbsboro.
Also: Christ the Good Shepherd, 1655 Magnolia Road, Vineland; St. Katharine Drexel, 6075 W. Jersey Avenue, Egg Harbor Township; and Our Lady Star of The Sea, 525 Washington Mall, Cape May.
The Camden diocese in 2016 made financial settlements to resolve claims by two men alleging clergy sex assaults in separate incidents in the 1950s and 1960s.
Spokesman Michael Walsh at that time said the policy of the diocese "is to settle every single credible claim of sexual abuse — no matter how old the claim might be, and regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired."
The diocese also settled two lawsuits in 2013 and 2014 after court fights over alleged clergy abuse.
A study by U.S. bishops in February 2004 found 63 victims had made "substantiated" claims against 33 priests in the diocese. It said the Camden diocese paid $5.6 million for settlements and $451,000 for ongoing therapy costs.
The diocese serves Catholics in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
Jim Walsh: @jimwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; firstname.lastname@example.org