Diocesan Response to the Sexual Abuse Crisis
Diocese of Fall River
January 7, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
As we begin this New Year, I pray that God will bless us all with His grace and bring peace to those in our community who have suffered greatly during the pandemic and the many other challenges we have all faced in 2020.
The scourge of clergy sexual abuse has deeply wounded so many people in our Church. It has touched every diocese worldwide and continues to affect us all – laity and clergy – in significant ways. Today, it is with a contrite heart and commitment to the healing process that I have published a list of clergy, diocesan and religious related to the Diocese of Fall River who have been credibly or publicly accused of committing sexual abuse of a minor.
The review of Diocesan records, some going back 70 years, was incredibly arduous and time consuming. While this review has taken longer than first anticipated, it was crucial that we took the time needed to do it right.
To all survivors of child sexual abuse, I am deeply sorry. We as a Church failed when you were most vulnerable. I firmly resolve to do all we can to help you heal, make certain we are accountable, and protect our children so that no other child suffers as you have.
It is part of our sacred mission to remain vigilant in efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults in our parishes, schools, programs and ministries. As we conducted this review of Diocesan records, our Diocese also revamped our Safe Environment program to strengthen our child protection efforts, as well as our protocols for handling allegations and responding to those impacted by abuse.
We require all personnel to submit to a background check, agree to a code of conduct, and complete a Safe Environment Training Program. Our Diocesan Policy for Protecting the Faithful has detailed instructions for Diocesan personnel who receive allegations of abuse. In addition, many Diocesan personnel are mandated reporters. We have a dedicated Victim Assistance Coordinator, a licensed social worker who is the first point of contact when an allegation is received and works closely with me to ensure that we are adequately addressing the rights and needs of any victims.
If you, or anyone you know, have suffered abuse by a priest or someone affiliated with the Diocese of Fall River, I urge you to call our Victim Assistance Coordinator at 508-985-6508 or visit our website. You have my assurance that your voice will be heard.
It is my prayerful and deepest hope that the publication of this list will help in the ongoing healing and care of survivors of clergy sexual abuse. They are of paramount concern to me and remain always in my prayers.
To every one of you who has suffered, I know that finding the ability to trust again is a slow and difficult journey. Together, may we find hope in Jesus Christ, may the Blessed Virgin Mary be a mother to us all, and may God grant us peace.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.
Bishop of Fall River