New York, Sep 21 (IANS) New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan has named a retired Federal Judge to conduct an “independent, scrupulous” review of the cases of sexual abuse the Catholic Church is facing and recommend how to deal with them.
Judge Barbara Jones – who also reviewed the documents confiscated by the FBI from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney – will examine and evaluate the cases and then make recommendations to improve the response of the archdiocese, the second-largest in the US, to the sexual abuse crisis facing the Church, Cardinal Dolan said on Thursday.
To do that, the Church has guaranteed the judge access to Church records, personnel and to Dolan himself, reports Efe news.
The move comes two weeks after the New York Attorney General announced a full investigation into how the state’s Catholic Church and its leaders have handled abuse allegations.
Calling the recent accusations and revelations of sexual abuse by priests and other church workers a “summer of hell”, Dolan said that “If I lost the trust of my people and this community, I don’t have a lot left”, and told Jones that he was praying for a “careful review and hard questions will help my good people renew their trust in the church they love and the leaders they want to believe”.
He mentioned as an example the case of Washington Archbishop Emeritus Theodore McCarrick, 88, who stands accused of committing sexual abuse 50 years ago when he was a priest in New York, accusations that he has denied.
The New York archdiocese announced on June 20 that an investigatory commission had determined that the accusations were credible.
After the complaints of sexual abuse surfaced, Cardinal McCarrick presented his resignation, which Pope Francis accepted.
The pontiff also ordered him to be removed from his public functions and to await a canonical trial in seclusion.
Two years ago, the New York Archdiocese announced the creation of an independently administered fund to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse provided they were willing to forego lawsuits, and that fund so far has paid $60 million to such victims.