Camden, New Jersey
The Diocese of Camden (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1937, covers six counties in southern New Jersey and serves a Catholic population of 455,000 parishioners. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has led the Diocese since July 1999 until he was reassigned to the Diocese of Brooklyn in October 2003. There are 313 diocesan priests, 114 deacons, 126 parishes, 13 high schools, and 57 elementary schools. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of August 4-6, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit. Information taken by on corrective actions taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program. The bishop or his designee has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of alleged sexual abuse. The victim assistance coordinator is Barbara Gondek, who is also assisted by a victim assistance coordinator advisory panel, consisting of three mental health professionals. This panel and Gondek conduct quarterly quality assurance reviews of victim assistance needs. The Diocese has also established a support group administered independently of the Diocese, specifically for those individuals who were abused in the past. The Diocese was commended for these two innovative initiatives. As a result of interviews with two victims, it was recommended that victims/survivors be contacted periodically and advised of the status of their cases. A nine-member review board, established in April 2002, is chaired by a retired state judge and is composed of diverse, highly-qualified professionals. The Diocese has also sent a copy of its entire response policy to 130,000 parishioners. A toll-free hotline monitored by an individual who has no connection or affiliation with the Church is also available. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has reported all allegations of sexual abuse of minors received since June 2002 to civil authorities. A procedure is in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by clergy to civil authorities. Standards of behavior and appropriate boundaries for church personnel have been adopted, clearly articulated, and broadcast. There is a demonstrated commitment to a transparent and open communications policy. The Diocese actively promulgates their policies and procedures for reporting allegations of abuse, including weekly bulletins, diocesan newspapers, and the diocesan website.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The diocese has participated in the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
To Protect the Faithful in the Future
The Diocese has established a safe environment program for clergy, educational, and volunteer personnel to address the needs of children and youth. Procedures for evaluating the backgrounds of diocesan and parish personnel, independent contractors, and volunteers have been established. Screening and evaluation procedures for considering the fitness of candidates for ordination are employed. No priest or deacon has been transferred or taken up residence since June 2002 either for ministerial or residency purposes. Systematic, ongoing formation programs for priests are in place.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Camden was issued one Recommendation and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION—That the Diocese continue to periodically apprise victims/survivors of the status of their cases.
COMMENDATION—For (a) the innovative use of the victim assistance coordinator advisory panel and (b) the development of a support group administered for victims/survivors independent of the Diocese.
As of December 1, 2003, the Recommendation had been addressed. The Diocese of Camden is found to be compliant with the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I.
The compliance audit measured activity that has occurred since the adoption of the Charter in June 2002 with the exception of certain mandated actions found in Articles 5 and 14. Actions taken by the diocese/eparchy prior to June 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons are not included in this summary report.
Office of Child and Youth Protection
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
(202) 541-5413 | FAX: (202) 541-5410