That which appears below is a statement issued by Bishop Sullivan:
In keeping with a promise made by the Roman Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, I am today releasing the names of 56 priests and one deacon of the Diocese of Camden who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. The other bishops from New Jersey are simultaneously releasing the names of priests from their dioceses.
In the Diocese of Camden, these 56 priests are a small percentage of the more than 800 priests who have faithfully served the people of South Jersey since the diocese was founded in 1937.
The list includes those who admitted to the abuse, those who were found guilty after a trial in the church courts or the civil courts, and other against whom the evidence was so overwhelming as to be virtually unquestionable. Most of these incidents occurred in the 1970s and 1980s and involved male teenagers. It should also be noted that the majority of these priests, all of whose names have been provided to local law enforcement authorities, are dead.
In many cases, a single allegation from 30 or 40 years ago was the only such charge that had ever been made against the priest, and was received after he had died. Thus, he was unable to respond to the allegation.
Not included in this list are four allegations from the 1960s and 1970s that are being referred to the Diocesan Review Board for a determination as to their credibility. The Review Board, which consists mainly of laypeople who are not employed by the diocese or any of the parishes, will be presented with all of the available evidence, and I have full confidence in its recommendations as to whether a supplemental report to include the names of other priests or deacons will be warranted.
A thorough reading of this list finds that it is in accord with in?depth reviews, such as the research study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, which appear to confirm that the pervasiveness of the phenomenon was in the latter part of the 1900s. For example, the last credible report of abuse of a minor by a priest in ministry in the Diocese of Camden occurred in 1995. This is not in any way to excuse what happened ± and it certainly is not to excuse the failings of bishops and other leaders in the Church at that time.
To be certain, the darkest stain on the Catholic Church in the last century was the sexual abuse of minors by priests. Unfortunately, we have all learned that this “filth,” as Pope Benedict correctly called it, was more pervasive than anyone imagined, or even thought possible.
We know the release of these names may cause others who have been abused to come forward. With that in mind, the Diocese of New Jersey encourage victims to register with the recently announced Independent Victims Compensation Program when that program is launched in the coming months. The program will handle submissions, evaluations, and settlements of individual claims of sexual abuse of a minor. The program will operate independently of the participating dioceses. The administrators of the program will have complete autonomy to determine eligibility of individual claims and the amount of compensation for victims who present a claim.
The dioceses worked together to establish a common statewide protocol for the Independent Victims Compensation Program to facilitate access to the program by victims. All victims, no matter when the offense occurred, will be eligible to participate in the Independent Victims Compensation Program.
The priest sex abuse scandal is not new, and neither is the Church’s response to it. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the Charter for the Protection of Children in 2002, and it has been implemented throughout New Jersey since that time. In addition, in New Jersey, since December of 2002, a Memorandum of Understanding has been in place that facilitates the reporting of child sexual abuse to local county prosecutors. The diocese has done all in its power to make our schools, parishes and ministries safe havens for everyone, and it will continue to do so.
As we have done often, we pray that God will continue to look after the victims and survivors of the priest sex abuse scandal. We ask that He give them hope, provide them with healing and bring comfort to their wounded souls.
Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D.
Bishop of Camden
On this President’s Day weekend it would seem appropriate to reprint George Washington’s Prayer for His Country. In 1783, this prayer was sent to the governors and states of the new nation.
It could be argued that much of the content of this petition is worthy of reflection 236 years after its’ initial promulgation.
“I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have the United States in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government , to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation .”
An environmental study on the old Church was conducted on January 22, 2019. The report, dated January 30, 2019, was recently made available to the parish.
The situation described in the report is quite similar to the circumstances discovered in the former rectory, garage/apartment and the old convent.
“Based on the results of the initial mold inspection and testing, it can be concluded with a reasonable degree of professional and scientific certainty that there is airborne fungal contamination in the areas sampled within the old church building. There is fungal amplification (mold growth), greater than 500 square feet, throughout the old church building. The mold growth appeared to be the result of a combination of leaks from the bell tower, leaks from the roof and condensation from the operation of the air conditioning unit and water intrusion through the bottom portion of the building due to drainage problems and flooding.”
Of immediate concern is the room used for our Children’s Liturgy Program. The report advised that this area “should not be used until mold remediation activities” have been completed. Given the importance of this program, other options are being explored.
Mold remediation work plans for the safe removal of airborne fungal contamination and fungal amplification are being solicited for review.
The communication from our Catholic Strong Committee that appears below was forwarded to those for whom we have an email address. For the benefit of any parishioners who did not receive its’ transmission, it is being reprinted.
Connected in Faith at a Cross Road
St. Joseph's Parish is in the midst of a significant dispute. What began as a five-year Diocesan campaign to look to the future needs of our parish, has erupted into a war being played out in spout-offs and lawn signs.
How did we get here? Since the opening of the new church in 2011, there has been little demand or use for the old church. As a result, in 2015, the Parish and Finance Councils approved modest investments but, chose not to undertake significant repairs to the old church. And so, it would have continued. However, our Bishop asked each parish to prayerfully consider future needs for parish revitalization. He initiated a campaign we now know as Catholic Strong.
Father Perreault assembled a Catholic Strong committee - not a secret committee, not a committee of outsiders, but a committee of active parishioners: long serving, meaningfully engaged members of our parish to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the Bishop's challenge.
The Catholic Strong Committee recommended that St. Joseph's future requires services for seniors, expanded ministries and more opportunities for enhancing our spiritual lives and sense of connection. The Catholic Strong Committee suggests we no longer need two worship sites.
Some say our recommendations are wrong; that there is an intimacy and history to the old church that is not found in the new. We believe the intimacy and history of St. Joseph's is the strength of our people, our friendships, and our commitment to our faith. It does not matter where we assemble, as long as we assemble. We believe money is better invested in services and programs for people rather than maintaining a building that is rarely used. This may sound harsh but funds are limited and tough decisions need to be made, if not now, then in the coming years.
There are some who would suggest we have a shoobie church that is open during the summer and then shuttered; while the locals revert to the little church for the winter. Most reasonable people understand that is not how buildings work; that there are expenses associated with maintaining a building whether or not it is in use. This is true of the new and the old church.
The Catholic Strong Committee regrets this discord in our parish. We never intended to start a war; simply a dialogue about our future needs and about parish revitalization. Regardless of the Catholic Strong campaign, now and in the coming years, St. Joseph's can allocate available funds to a building that is rarely used or we can allocate available funds to enhanced services for seniors, improved opportunities for fellowship, new technology and easily accessible space. The members of the Parish Council, Finance Council and Catholic Strong Committee choose services.
If you have any questions or need a copy of your pledge packet, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of the committee. We are always happy to speak with you.
Jackie Meiluta (Chairperson) 609-320-6397
Kathy Walters (Vice-Chair) 609-263-1529
Deacon Joe Murphy 609-385-3892
Marie Peltier 609-263-3812
JB Flora 609-263-9357
Chickie Flora 609-263-9357
Jim Terruso 609-263-9014
Kathy Custer 609-827-2994
Chuck Whinney 609-263-3953
Rita Collins 215-704-0340
Ann Mooney 609-263-1636