A former federal judge has been appointed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York to review its procedures and protocols for handling allegations of sexual abuse following a summer of scandals.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced on Thursday that Barbara Jones will serve as the church’s Special Counsel and Independent Reviewer. She has been tasked with undertaking “an exhaustive study of (the church’s) policies, procedures and protocols on how they deal with any accusation that comes about an alleged abuse of a young person by a priest, deacon or bishop.”
“A federal judge, a former prosecutor, known for her wisdom and fairness, I have asked Judge Jones to help me and this archdiocese,” he stated. “I have promised her complete access to our records, personnel and to me personally.
In a letter to his constituents, Dolan said that he has done “a lot of listening” over “this difficult summer,” and said he is too is “upset, angry, bewildered and frustrated about the ongoing crisis of sexual abuse in the Church.”
“Some of you may have heard me talk about my own mother, now 90 years old and in assisted living, telling me that she’s embarrassed, as a Catholic, to go into the dining room with her fellow residents,” he said. “Most stinging though, is hearing ‘Cardinal Dolan, we are beginning to lose trust in your bishops.’ And without that trust, I don’t have a lot left.”
The independent review from Jones comes on the heels of the New York Attorney General’s Office announcing plans to undertake an extensive investigation into how the church and its leaders handle allegations of abuse statewide.
“Where I see deficiencies or gaps or noncompliance with current procedures, I will identify them to the cardinal for his review and remediation,” Jones said after being announced. “The cardinal has asked me to be rigorous in my exam and call out deficiencies as I see them. He has assured me he will take appropriate action as quickly as expeditiously as possible based on my recommendations.”
Dolan said that since 2002, “the Church has made great strides in combating the crime and sin of sexual abuse of minors, especially by ‘zero tolerance’ of any guilty priest, deacon, or bishop, and by reaching out to victim-survivors, who much remain our first concern. “
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that, as your archbishop, I am with you, and I am committed to transparency, accountability and action. That’s what I’ve heard you request.”
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