For decades, leaders of the Roman Catholic dioceses of New Jersey remained silent on allegations of abuse by its clergy members. But this month, the truth will out. Five archdioceses in New Jersey have begun to divulge information related to abuses that stretch back nearly one hundred years. They are finally naming names.
“Credible Accusations” Against Nearly 200 NJ Priests
While it is critical to remember that few of the priests identified by the church as perpetrators have been tried in a court of law for their alleged crimes, the archdioceses, which supervise Catholic parishes throughout the state of New Jersey, announced that previously hidden records concerning 188 clergy members involved “credible accusations” of child abuse. Even if some or many of those accusations turn out to be unfounded, the announcement is still shocking. It points to what many have expected and feared: not only widespread systemic abuse by clergy members, but an equally far-reaching cover-up of those abuses by church leaders.
New Legislation and Victims’ Funds in Works for Clergy Abuse Victims
The revelations coming from the New Jersey Catholic Church follow on from this past summer’s grand jury report concerning clergy abuse in Pennsylvania. That report, now infamous, made international headlines when it identified more than 300 “predator priests” who had abused at least 1000 victims, while suggesting there may be many more as yet to come forward.
Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey continue to consider legislation that may allow victims to bring lawsuits against the church and individual clergy members. In certain states, victims’ funds have also been organized and are accepting submissions for compensation.