Newark, New Jersey
The Archdiocese of Newark (“the Archdiocese”), which was established as a diocese in 1853 and elevated to an archdiocese in 1937, encompasses Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties in northeastern New Jersey. It serves a Catholic community of 1,319,558 parishioners and 234 parishes with 721 active archdiocesan priests, 198 permanent deacons, and 129 elementary schools and 36 high schools. The Most Reverend John J. Myers, installed as archbishop in October 2001, leads the Archdiocese and is assisted by four auxiliary bishops. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of September 15-18, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit. Information on corrective actions taken by the Archdiocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese has had a policy and outreach program to respond to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy since 1993; it has recently been revised to comply with the Charter. The archbishop or his delegate is willing to meet with victims/survivors and their families. Julie Morrissey Willis is the victim assistance coordinator; she has a master’s degree in social work and extensive practical experience. A diverse 14-member review board, composed of lay persons and professionals, provides consultative counsel to the Archdiocese. The archbishop has also appointed a retired state supreme court justice to assist him in evaluating the review board’s Recommendations and findings. Procedures for reporting allegations are readily available and are disseminated publicly. No confidentiality agreements have been entered into since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese has a memorandum of understanding with respective county prosecutors that exceeds statutory requirements for reporting allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and cooperating with civil authorities. The Archdiocese has reported all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy and has cooperated with investigations. There is a procedure to advise victims/survivors of their right to report to civil authorities. A local support group established in October 2002 is available to accused clergy. A policy on standards of ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries for clergy and other church personnel was disseminated on September 13, 2003, and a Recommendation was made that clergy and any other church personnel who have regular contact with minors acknowledge the receipt of the policy. The Archdiocese has a communications policy committed to openness and transparency. Since October 2002, the archbishop or his designee has visited or contacted seven parishes directly affected by clergy misconduct.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has adopted the National Catholic Risk Retention Group’s program Protecting God’s Children; however, this safe environment training has not yet been completed. An Instruction directed that this effort be expedited and afforded higher priority as soon as possible. As mandated by state law, the Archdiocese has conducted background checks on teachers and educators. The Archdiocese recently adopted a policy for conducting background evaluations for archdiocesan personnel and others having access to children and youth. An Instruction directed that these background record checks be expedited. No priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a minor has been transferred from the Archdiocese for ministerial purposes or for residence since June 2002. Six priests currently on voluntary leave (pending the disposition of review board or canonical processes) are living in other dioceses. The bishops of their dioceses have not been routinely provided with all relevant information pertaining to these individuals. An Instruction directed that the Archdiocese notify the appropriate bishops expeditiously as to these men’s residence. The archdiocesan documents Retreat Opportunities and Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation Opportunities describe the ongoing formation of priests, and the Archdiocese employs screening and evaluation techniques for candidates for ordination.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of the audit, the Archdiocese of Newark was issued three Instructions and one Recommendation.
INSTRUCTION 1—The Archdiocese should implement appropriate background evaluations for all personnel, including prospective seminarians, who may have regular contact with minors.
INSTRUCTION 2—The Archdiocese should expedite implementation of the pending safe environment training program and assign a person to monitor the training.
INSTRUCTION 3—The Archdiocese should expeditiously provide to the appropriate bishops the information concerning any act of sexual abuse by priests who have relocated to those bishops’ dioceses.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Archdiocese ensure that all pertinent parties have received a copy of the archdiocesan standards of conduct and have acknowledged receipt in writing.
By December 1, 2003, all three Instructions and the Recommendation had been addressed. The Archdiocese of Newark is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 of 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