NY Announces 120 Clerical Abusers

From NPR: “Archdiocese Of New York Names 120 Clergy 'Credibly Accused' Of Child Sex Abuse.” But this is actually good news. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of NY said, “there is not a single priest or deacon of the Archdiocese of New York against whom there has been a credible and substantiated claim of abuse against a minor currently in ministry.”

Of course, he could be playing games concerning “credible” accusations. But SNAP, the leading victims’ group, said the “information is good but not enough for a complete list.” They said nothing about missing names, so I suspect there are few known problems. Furthermore, Cardinal Dolan said, “anyone who has an allegation of abuse of a minor to go immediately to the district attorney to report it.” I don’t recall any senior Church official urging accusers to go directly to the authorities. This is definitely not Church policy.

Even more importantly, only 2 of the 120 cases occurred after 2002, when the American Catholic Church adopted the Dallas Charter, a more rigorous set of procedures for handling abuse cases. Historically, there has always been a long delay between the crime of priestly abuse and a victim’s report of it. But in NY, I suspect this delay has shrunk considerably. If only two cases of abuse occurred after NY’s implementation of the Dallas Charter, I would say they’ve done a good job.

But it is still premature to claim victory. First, archdioceses have significant leeway in implementing the Charter, and other archdioceses may not have acted as effectively. Furthermore, the Dallas Charter is an American solution. In almost no other country has the Catholic Church adopted a similar procedure. The recent “abuse summit” held by Pope Francis did not even propose any enforcement measures, let alone anything remotely comparable to the Dallas Charter. The shining city on the hill is New York - not the Vatican.


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