Statement on Father Timone


December 21, 2018

Dear Courage and EnCourage Family,

I last wrote to you in September to share information with you regarding priests who were associated with the Courage Apostolate who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors; Father Harvey’s work with priests who had been so accused; and other connections between the apostolate and the sexual abuse crisis. At that time, I promised that I would keep you updated about new information that I received.

I am writing today about two articles that have appeared in recent weeks, one about long-time Courage chaplain Father Donald Timone, and the other about Father Harvey.

I want to begin by acknowledging that, whenever the topic of sexual abuse by clergy comes up, it can be a particularly painful experience for people who have survived such abuse, and for their loved ones. Some have described it as feeling like one has to endure the original trauma of the abuse over again. It is also a source of distress for members of the apostolate and of the Catholic faithful in general, as each new revelation threatens the trust that they have placed in the clergy who are called to serve as spiritual fathers and models. I deeply regret the pain that this letter may cause for you, but I believe that honest discussion of these issues is the best way to achieve healing, for the individual and for the Church.

Handling of Allegations of Sexual Abuse Against Father Donald Timone

On December 20, the New York Times ran an article by Sharon Otterman, under the headline, “The Church Settled Sexual Abuse Cases Against This Priest. Why Is He Still Saying Mass?” The article states that two allegations of sexual abuse were made against Father Donald Timone, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York, to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) created by the Archdiocese of New York, in 2016, for which the IRCP authorized settlement payments. The article goes on to describe the distressing details of the alleged abuse, which it says took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The article notes that the allegations were brought to the attention of the Archdiocese of New York (and in one of the cases, to law enforcement) in 2002 and 2003, at which time Father Timone was suspended from ministry and an investigation was conducted by the Archdiocesan Review Board.

According to the spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, quoted in the article, only one of those allegations was brought to the Review Board. As a result of its investigation, the Review Board determined that the allegation was not credible, and accordingly Father Timone was returned to ministry in 2003. He has continued to assist in a parish in the archdiocese to this day, even after his retirement from active ministry in 2009, when he reached the age of 75. The Archdiocese of New York recently began a new investigation of the allegations brought to the IRCP against Father Timone, which is ongoing. As of the time of my writing to you, the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has not suspended Father Timone from ministry while the investigation is pending.

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