Cardinal defends handling of abuse
Cardinal defends handling of abuse
Egan says policy protected flock
In a letter to parishioners, Egan, 69, a native of Oak Park, Ill., said that under his policy in Bridgeport “any clergy accused of sexual misconduct with a minor was, after preliminary diocesan investigation, to be sent immediately to one of the most prominent psychiatric institutions in the nation for evaluation.”
Egan added: “If the conclusions were favorable, he was returned to ministry, in some cases with restrictions, so as to be doubly careful. If they were not favorable, he was not allowed to function as a priest.”
The cardinal also repeated his position that church authorities would not automatically refer reports of sexual abuse by priests to prosecutors.
Egan’s letter, made available to parishes throughout the archdiocese of New York, responded to a Hartford Courant story last Sunday reporting that Egan, while bishop of the Bridgeport diocese, allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to continue working in parishes–and that he did not refer such complaints to prosecutors or police.
The Bridgeport diocese settled complaints against six priests in March 2001, not long after Egan was named to lead the archdiocese of New York.
In his letter, Egan said he was “strongly encouraging” anyone with an allegation of abuse to alert the “proper civil authorities directly and immediately.”
But in an indication that the New York archdiocese would not necessarily adhere to the same practice, the cardinal said New York church officials will review reports of sexual abuse to “determine the validity of each claim,” and that priests could be removed from their ministries only if a report of sexual abuse is substantiated by church authorities.
Egan avoided committing the church to reporting cases to civil authorities in all instances.
“Should the Archdiocese of New York be approached with an allegation,” Egan said in the letter, “we will make the appropriate report to the proper authorities, if there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse and the victim does not oppose the reporting.”
New York district attorneys pointed out last week that New York law requires the reporting of sexual abuse allegations to police or prosecutors, and said that detectives and social workers are in a better position than church leaders to determine the merits of a case.
Egan’s position also departs from church policy in other U.S. dioceses, which generally support the reporting of abuse cases to civil authorities.
Richard McBrien, a prominent theologian and outspoken critic of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal, questioned the soundness of Egan’s position after reading his Saturday letter.
“The diocesan lawyers who handled so many of these cases obviously considered them serious because they recommended substantial outlays of money to settle the cases,” said McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. “There must have been probable cause if they paid money, and thus civil authorities should have been notified.”
In his letter, Egan said three points should have been made in last week’s Courant story.
First, Egan said, the “alleged abuse” in the Bridgeport cases described by the newspaper occurred before his appointment as bishop. Second, Egan maintained that he had followed diocesan policy by referring accused priests for psychiatric evaluation before allowing them to return to their priestly duties. He also said the victims alleging abuse were all adults when they brought their allegations to the diocese.
The Courant story stated all of those points.
Posted on February 13, 2013, in Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Pope Benedict, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse and tagged Archdiocese of New York, Bridgeport Diocese, Cardinal Edward Egan, child abuse, child molestation, child sex abuse, clergy abuse, crimes against children, Diocese of Bridgeport, pedophile, priest sex abuse, religion, roman catholic church, roman catholic church sex scandal, roman catholic clergy, roman catholics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.