The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has cleaned house of all priests who have been credibly accused of sex abuse, an independent investigator said in a report Monday.
No accused priest or deacon remains in ministry in the Manhattan-based archdiocese, said former federal judge Barbara Jones, who was asked by Cardinal Timothy Dolan last year to review its handling of the sex abuse crisis.
Jones said she received “complete access” to archdiocese records during her 12-month review, in which she examined some 2,000 personnel files and conducted dozens of interviews. Church officials are adhering to strict protocols when they receive allegations of abuse involving members of the clergy, she said.
“I am encouraged by what I’ve seen,” Jones said. “I have confidence that the archdiocese will continue in the commitment that it has demonstrated thus far to the safety of children.”
Dolan initiated the investigation in a bid to restore parishioners’ faith in the church after a deluge of revelations about clergy abuse across the country, he said a new event Monday to announce Jones’ results.
He expressed hope that those who harbor mistrust can find it in their hearts to be thankful for the church’s good-faith efforts to right past wrongs.
“I’m trying my best to serve my people,” he said.
When the church gets a report of abuse of a minor, it refers the accusation to the local district attorney and to a lay review board. Since 2002, the diocese, which includes parts of New York city as well as surrounding counties, has substantiated two such allegations, Jones said.
The diocese requires new hires to present a certificate from their previous diocese to confirm they’ve never been accused of abuse.
Jones also pointed to shortfalls, including a paper filing system that increases the risk of information getting lost.
“The office could perform its functions more effectively with better technology,” Jones wrote.
But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called Jones’ review “another move by church officials to handle allegations of abuse in house.”
The group pointed out that the Buffalo diocese made similar claims about transparency last year before a whistle-blower released incriminating documents.
The advocates also noted that Jones found the archdiocese did not have a policy of reporting allegations of abuse against adults to the authorities — a policy Dolan said the church will now change.
SNAP urged the archdiocese to submit to an investigation from the state Attorney General’s office.
The Child Victims Act that went into effect in August gave a one-year window to file new claims to former victims of abuse whose statute of limitations had expired. Since then, hundreds of new cases have flooded the courts, many of them accusing the Catholic church. Dolan said Monday he doesn’t yet know the financial impact of the new lawsuits.
The Archdiocese of New York set up a compensation and reconciliation fund in 2016 that has paid out $67 million to 338 past abuse victims, according to the investigation.
With News Wire Services