DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN NY
The study asked the 195 archdioceses and dioceses in our nation to search their records dating from 1950 to the end of 2002 and to submit their findings to the John Jay study team. On Feb. 27, the team issued a report "in globo," not diocese-by-diocese. We chose the same date to release the information the Diocese of Brooklyn submitted for the John Jay report.
As for the significant statistics, relative to allegations received, we found that of 2,114 incardinated priests and deacons serving in the Diocese over that time, 73 were accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Percentagewise, that comes to 3.45% of the clergy. During that same period, 11,815 priests from outside the Diocese and from religious orders served here. Accusations were made by 14 individuals, or 0.0012%.
In all, the Diocese received accusations of sexual misconduct by clergy with minors from 188 persons. Twenty-three of these allegations were presented to the Diocese after accused diocesan priests had died.
Of the accused incardinated clergy, 25 are dead, 16 are retired and 24 no longer serve in priestly ministry. Allegations against eight priests were determined to be unsubstantiated.
Settlements agreed upon by the victims and the Diocese amounted to $783,168. The cost of providing counseling for them was $683,373. Legal fees for the Diocese totaled $187,902.20.
The review of the records by decade showed that almost 150 instances of sexual abuse were committed in the three decades beginning in the 1960s but far fewer in recent years. The breakdown was 15 in the 1950s, 45 in the 1960s, 62 in the 1970s, 42 in the 1980s, 20 in the 1990s and four since 2000.
The reports of allegations given to the Diocese by victims swelled since 1990. There were two reports in the l950s, seven in the 1960s, 13 in the 1970s, 20 in the 1980s and 150 since 1990.
This report motivates a recommitment to the safety of young people from anyone who would abuse them sexually or in any other way. The Diocese has taken steps to respond to accusations received over the years. I am grateful for and supported by the work of the Diocesan Review Board, comprised of eight outstanding individuals and chaired by Bernard Helldorfer of St. John’s University. They advise me as to any course of action that needs to be taken in the light of claims of inappropriate behavior. They are most generous with their time and counsel.
The Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese, Sister Ellen Patricia Finn, O.P., of Catholic Charities, has done extraordinary work in her role, offering pastoral care for victims and their families – counseling, spiritual guidance and support. She is creating "healing teams" of skilled and trained clergy, Religious and lay people who can work one-on-one and in groups and also offer parish outreach. We continue to urge anyone who wishes to report an allegation to do so.
Although I have ministered here in this Diocese for only a short time, I have become keenly aware that, over the years, the priests and Religious given the awesome responsibility of listening and responding to the painful stories of victims have done so with Christ-like charity, recognizing the dignity and worth of each one as an individual made in the image and likeness of God. They have fulfilled their roles with exquisite concern for the well-being of the victims. They have also manifested sensitive pastoral concern for those accused.
Another diocesan initiative, coordinating the VIRTUS "Protecting God’s Children" awareness training workshops for adults, has reached more than 3,000 clergy, Religious and laity who have contact with children. I am grateful to Sister Jane Scanlon, C.N.D., Vice Chancellor, and her committee for their leadership in organizing the sessions.
Sister Jane is also heading a search committee to fill the position of Safe Environment Program Coordinator. The person selected will oversee the continued development of sexual abuse education and awareness programs for adults and children, coordinate background checks of diocesan personnel and volunteers and ensure awareness of a ministerial Code of Conduct.
I am pleased with the cooperation of the Office of District Attorney of Kings County and the Office of District Attorney of Queens County and the public recognition they have given to our joint efforts. I pledge a continuing commitment to that relationship.
As I have said many times since this devastating scandal erupted, even one instance of inappropriate behavior with a child or young person is one too many. Where are we as a Church if even one child is vulnerable in the company of someone representing the Church of Jesus?
One wonders if enough could ever be done to console the victims of such abuse. As an act of reparation for the sins of a few, I am designating April 5, the Monday of Holy Week, as a day of prayer and penance. I will invite the faithful of our Diocese to join me in dedicating that day to the welfare of all victims by means of fasting and other penitential acts.
Allow me at this point to say to every victim, I am sorry for the transgressions committed against you. I state this with heartfelt sincerity. You have endured indignities that can never be justified. That these acts were committed by clergy ordained to serve God’s people with dignity and respect makes this even more painful. Please accept this apology, which I offer from the depths of my soul.
I say publicly and on behalf of the multitude of people of our Diocese who share my concern for the safety of children and young people that we will do all within our ability to keep them safe. There will be an ongoing effort to restore their trust and the trust of their loved ones.
Whatever hurts one part of the Body of Christ hurts all. As Bishop of this portion of God’s Kingdom, I commit myself to following a path that will keep His Body whole. I ask our good people to join me on this journey.
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