New Jersey Catholic Bishops List Names of Nearly 200 Priests Accused of Abuse

Roman Catholic bishops in New Jersey on Wednesday named nearly 200 priests who have been found credibly accused of sexually abusing a child. The disclosure is just the latest reported in recent weeks by dioceses and religious orders across the country as law enforcement officials examine the church’s response to an epidemic of abuse.

As with many of the other lists published, most of the priests identified by the New Jersey bishops are dead, and the accusations involve alleged abuse that happened decades ago.

The list of names included Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal who stands to be one of the highest-profile Catholic figures in modern times to be defrocked, and a parish priest who was the first to be criminally charged as part of the New Jersey attorney general’s investigation into clergy abuse.

The bishops in New Jersey have followed dozens of their colleagues in the United States in deciding to publish the names of suspected abusers after a grand jury report in Pennsylvania last summer outlined seven decades of accusations and inflamed broader tensions in the church over its handling of abuse.

The disclosures have typically named no more than a few dozen priests at a time. Even so, the lists stitch together into what has become one of the fullest pictures yet of the breadth of the problem and offer a snapshot of the depths of the anguish and anger it has caused.

The lists released on Wednesday cover the five dioceses in New Jersey, reflecting a failure by the church that Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, said “betrayed’’ victims and their families.

“I beg your forgiveness,” Cardinal Tobin wrote in a letter accompanying the list of 63 priests accused in the Newark archdiocese. “It is our sincerest hope that this disclosure will help bring healing to those whose lives have been so deeply violated.”

Cardinal Tobin, who also leads the New Jersey Catholic Conference, said last year that the state’s dioceses — Trenton, Camden, Paterson and Metuchen, in addition to the Newark archdiocese — would together release the names of accused priests.

The diocese in Camden named 56 priests and one deacon who have been credibly accused of abuse; Trenton named 30 priests; Paterson named 28 priests and one deacon; and the Metuchen diocese identified one deacon and 10 priests, including two who are the subject of law enforcement investigations. One of them, Patrick Kuffner, was suspended last year after three people accused him of abusing them as children when he was a teacher at a Staten Island school.

The other priest, Thomas P. Ganley, was charged last month with multiple counts related to the sexual assault of a child in what was the first criminal case brought by a state clergy abuse task force formed last year by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal of New Jersey.

The lists released by Newark and Metuchen also noted the allegations against Mr. McCarrick, who had once led both dioceses. Mr. McCarrick, who has been accused of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades, faces punishment from the Vatican as soon as this week. He is believed to be the first to step down from the College of Cardinals over sex abuse allegations, and, ordered by Pope Francis to “a life of prayer and penance,” he could be expelled from the priesthood.

In the past month, bishops in Hartford, Kansas City and most of the 15 dioceses in Texas were among those that shared the names of credibly accused priests.

The wave of disclosures has been described by some Catholic officials as a move toward transparency as the church seeks to reassure followers who have grown disillusioned by the drumbeat of accusations.

For some victims, seeing an abuser’s name on a list published by the church has come as validation after decades without answers. But some victims and advocates said the disclosures have not yet amounted to true accountability.

“Fortunately, folks in New Jersey do not have to rely on Catholic hierarchs for the kind of transparency that we are asking for,” the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or Snap, said in a statement on Wednesday. “We know that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has been steadfast in his investigation into clergy abuse in his state and just a few months ago served subpoenas to uncover documents related to clergy abuse in New Jersey.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Grewal said that a tip line established by the task force had received hundreds of calls alleging abuse by Catholic clergy. He praised the disclosures as a step toward transparency and accountability.

“I hope this spirit of openness continues during the course of our ongoing investigation and in response to our requests for records and information,” he said, adding, “Our investigation remains ongoing because no institution or individual is immune from accountability.”

The five New Jersey dioceses join more than 100 others across the country, which have named more than 3,600 accused priests, according to information maintained by Jeff Anderson and Associates, a law firm that handles abuse cases.

On Sunday, the Diocese of Norwich became the final one in Connecticut to identify accused priests when it released a list of 43 names. The Archdiocese of Hartford named 48 priests last month, and in October, the Bridgeport diocese released a list of 29 priests.

The disclosure on Wednesday noted that many of the priests have died, and many of the rest had been removed from ministry. The Most Rev. Dennis J. Sullivan, Camden’s bishop, noted in a letter than the 56 named priests were a “small percentage” of the more than 800 priests who had served over the past eight decades.

Still, advocates noted that the lists included few, if any, details about the nature of the alleged abuse or when it took place, and most of the dioceses did not include the priests’ work histories. In its statement, Snap said that it believed the lists, which were compiled by the dioceses at their own discretion, were incomplete. “We also know that there are more names of clerics who have hurt people in New Jersey that were not named today,” the statement said.

But the bishops said that they hoped the disclosures offered some comfort to victims. They also expressed hope that their effort could help mend ties with followers whose relationship with the church had frayed and their confidence in its leaders had diminished.

“What a tragedy to have to publish such a list,” the Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli, the bishop of Paterson diocese, said in a letter on Wednesday. “Our society and certain members of the church have failed children. We also have failed Jesus who said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”

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