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The five Catholic dioceses of New Jersey have begun releasing the names of priests that have credibly accused of sex crimes against children, making it the latest of several Roman Catholic Church organizations to do so in recent months.
The lists name 188 priests, including those both living and deceased, who may have sexually abused children . A separate list was released by each diocese in the state, including credible claims that date back to 1940.
In a letter to church members, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who is the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, said that list represents ongoing efforts for greater transparency, and that all of the names were previously reported to law enforcement. Those included on the lists were alerted ahead of time.
“The revelations of clergy sexual abuse of minors throughout this past year have provoked feelings of shock, anger, shame, and deep sorrow throughout our Catholic community. Victims, their families, and the faithful are rightfully outraged over the abuses perpetrated against minors,” Tobin says in the letter. “Additionally, the failure of Church leadership to immediately remove suspected abusers from ministry is particularly reprehensible.”
Tobin also announced that the archdiocese has established a new Independent Victim Compensation Program, which will allow those abused by clergy as children to seek compensation in a transparent manner.
The releases are the latest in a string of such lists released by Roman Catholic Church dioceses and orders nationwide in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, all 15 dioceses in Texas released lists identifying 300 priests in that state who have been credibly accused of child sex abuse over about the last 80 years.
The USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus, known more commonly as the Jesuits, released a similar list on January 15, including the names of 50 priests who served in portions of New England and New York.
The lists comes amid increasing attention on child sex abuse allegations against priests in the Catholic Church worldwide, and efforts to reverse decades of actions by the church to cover up such activities and protect priests from law enforcement. Churches now face substantial pressure to be more transparent and accountable for the behavior of priests or others placed in a position of trust and authority over minors.
In August 2018, a grand jury report highlighted cases involving at least 90 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in the Pittsburgh area, involving allegations and cover-ups that spanned decades.
That report indicated that the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania covered up abuse involving priests who abused more than 1,000 victims, mostly children, over the course of 70 years. After 90 of those priests were identified, it sparked investigations by the Justice Department and states’ attorneys general nationwide.
The spotlight on the issue has renewed some efforts to level sex abuse litigation against the Church. Last month, an attorney representing a number of victims announced that the Catholic Church had agreed to settle at least five sexual abuse lawsuits brought against a former priest in New Jersey.