While rumors of the sexual abuse of minors have long been whispered of within the Catholic Church, the floodgates were recently thrown open by a shocking grand jury report from Pennsylvania, revealing “credible allegations of sexual abuse by over 300 priests, with thousands of victims.”
There is also an ongoing investigation by the New York attorney general’s office into the handling of the scandalous allegations by the church, and that investigation just issued a slew of subpoenas against the eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state.
The Associated Press reported that NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood demanded documents from all eight dioceses that relate to sexual abuse allegations, possible financial payments to alleged victims and the findings of internal church investigations.
The investigation is said to be largely focused on how church leaders handled the reports of abuse received over the years.
The Brooklyn Diocese released a statement to the AP in response to the subpoenas issued by the NY AG.
“We have been collaborating closely with law enforcement for many years and stand ready to work with her office on this investigation,” read the statement.
“In 2002, the Diocese of Brooklyn handed over all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon, to the district attorneys in Brooklyn and Queens. Since that time, we have adopted a zero tolerance policy and have reported any and all allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement,” the statement added.
None of the seven other dioceses in the state responded to requests for comment from the AP about the subpoenas.
Hotline for victims
The NY AG’s office has opened up a special hotline for victims to call and created an online complaint form that can be submitted by anyone with any sort of information related to the church’s sexual abuse scandal. In New York, that hotline number is 1-800-771-7755, while residents of New Jersey are urged to call 1-855-363-6548 if they have any relevant information to share.
Pope Francis criticized
Pope Francis declared his sympathy for the abuse victims and called for change, admitting in a letter, “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.” But critics worry he isn’t taking enough concrete action to ensure change and accountability. A long-standing lack of transparency from the Vatican doesn’t help.
While church leaders who may have been involved or helped cover up abuse over the years may be rather concerned by these subpoenas and investigations, it is necessary to root out the evil that has been flourishing in the shadows for far too long.