DIOCESE OF NORWICH CT
Diocese of Norwich
January 20, 2004
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
In keeping with my promise to all of you to be open and forthcoming regarding allegations involving the sexual abuse of children, I have the sad responsibility to inform you of an allegation of child sexual abuse made against a priest now serving in the Diocese of Norwich. The present allegations arise from activities alleged to have occurred in another diocese more than twenty-five years ago. There have been no allegations made against Father for any of his actions in our diocese. Just the same, I have asked for, and received his resignation. Please keep Father, as well as those who have raised allegations against him, in your prayers.
From August 6, 1953 through the present, one thousand three hundred and forty-seven priests (diocesan, extern and religious) have served the parishes, schools and institutions of the Diocese of Norwich. Of this number, nineteen, or 1.41 percent, have had substantial allegations of child sexual abuse brought against them for acts alleged to have occurred within our diocese. While this is a relatively small percentage, even one case of sexual abuse is far too many. No child should ever be abused or exploited, especially by someone whose life is supposed to be modeled upon Christ, the High Priest who said, “Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake, welcomes me. On the other hand, it would be better for anyone who leads astray one of the little ones who believes in me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck, in the depths of the sea. What terrible things will come on the world through scandal! It is inevitable that scandal should occur. Nonetheless, woe to that man through whom scandal comes.” (Matt. 18:5-7)
We do not know whether or not there will be litigation involving the priest I have just removed. Sadly enough for all involved, litigation seems to have become our constant companion these days. Should litigation occur, it will occur elsewhere.
Just the same, in Norwich we have had our share of litigation. To date the Diocese of Norwich has spent $70,000 from the diocesan general fund for treatments for alleged victims and their families or for other costs associated with alleged clerical abuse. Our insurers have expended an additional $498,000. Under no circumstances have monies contributed, received and reserved for particular purposes, such as the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, been used to cover any of these costs.
The Diocese of Norwich has been and remains committed to addressing the
issue of child sexual abuse and to providing safe environments for all
of God’s children. Since 1990, the Diocese has had a written policy
in place, which we have carefully followed when dealing with accusations
of abuse. This policy has undergone revision, most recently in this past
The sexual abuse of children is a tragedy for all involved - victims, families, the People of God, and even perpetrators. The victims of abuse have suffered greatly, as have their families. Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and lay people, have been deeply hurt and affected by the doubt and mistrust that, in many cases, have replaced trust and respect. The scandal has touched and hurt us all. We must all pray for healing, help, forgiveness, and reconciliation in our community, Church, and world.
Jesus extended his care in a tender and urgent way to children when he said, “Let the children come to me,” rebuking his disciples for blocking their way. We hear these words of the Lord as prophetic for this moment. With a firm determination, let us resolve to provide safety and protection for children and young people. Let us be accountable to one another. Let us commit ourselves to reach out to victims of abuse and their families. It is only by working together - with watchful eyes, listening ears, and a willingness to come forward and make ourselves heard - that we, as the Church, will be able to ensure a safe future for all of God’s children. May God be with us all in our efforts here in the Diocese of Norwich.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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