Compiled from reports
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., issued a statement memorializing the Diocese of Trenton’s commitment to the plans announced Nov. 19 that all five New Jersey dioceses will establish a Victims’ Compensation and Counseling Program and will publish the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.
The plans were announced by the archdiocese’s Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who noted that this will give victims a formal voice and allow them to be heard by an independent panel. The Cardinal also said that the program will assure that victims who have not received any financial compensation will be paid, regardless of whether their claims meet the time requirements of the statute of limitations.
This initiative will expand on the current arrangement through which the Catholic Church in New Jersey already has provided some $50 million in compensation to victims of abuse, despite the fact that the vast majority of such claims had been barred by the New Jersey statute of limitations governing these cases. The details of the victims’ program will be announced after a period of consultation and input from different groups that will be impacted by the new measure.
Another measure announced by the Cardinal is publishing of the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse against minors. It was projected that this will occur early in the new year after the dioceses have had time to complete a full review of all personnel files.
In his statement, Bishop O’Connell reviewed and emphasized the substantial commitment that the Diocese of Trenton has made since 2002 to keep children and young persons safe, and to reach out to those who were abused as minors. He noted the Diocese’s compliance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People; the Diocese’s policy to report all allegations to law enforcement, and the effort to compensate victims, without requiring confidentiality of them.
The Bishop acknowledged that the Diocese of Trenton had been considering publishing the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of children for some time, and will do so in a few months. He states, “It is hoped that this action will bring healing and closure to those who have suffered from sexual abuse as minors in the Church and will prompt others so affected to come forward to seek healing.”
Additionally, the Bishop stated that the Diocese will set up its own Victims’ Compensation and Counseling Program, the details of which are being developed and will be released when available.
Bishop O’Connell again apologized to victims, stating, “With the heaviest of hearts and deep shame, I apologize once more to all victims of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and other personnel in the Diocese of Trenton. I hope that our latest efforts at transparency and outreach related to such abuse will serve as both a recognition of your deep suffering and an opportunity to begin healing in your lives.”