Written by Rick Rojas and Liam Stack
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn on Friday named more than 100 priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a child. It was one of the largest disclosures yet in a torrent of lists recently published by the church as its handling of the problem has drawn the scrutiny of law enforcement officials.
The diocese is also one of the largest in the nation, its domain encompassing Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, an area with 1.5 million people who the church says identify as Catholic.
The disclosure covers decades of allegations involving priests who had served in the diocese’s many neighborhood parishes, as well as its schools. Advocates who track abuse cases said it also roughly doubled the number of suspected abusers they had been aware of in the diocese.
The list contributes to a growing sense of the vastness of a sex abuse epidemic that has plunged the Catholic Church into scandal and inflamed a crisis in confidence among its followers. Church officials have employed the disclosures as a way to acknowledge failures and mend ties with Catholics whose relationship with the church has been tested over its handling of sex abuse.
“We know this list will generate many emotions for victims who have suffered terribly,” the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, the bishop of Brooklyn, said in a statement accompanying the disclosure. “For their suffering, I am truly sorry. I have met with many victims who have told me that more than anything, they want an acknowledgment of what was done to them. This list gives that recognition and I hope it will add another layer of healing for them on their journey toward wholeness.”
DiMarzio followed dozens of other bishops in the United States in publishing the names of suspected abusers.
Church officials said the disclosure reflected the expanse of the diocese, both in demographic size and in history. The diocese said that the list covers its 166-year existence, and that the suspected priests made up not even 5 per cent of the clergy who served during that time. Forty-one of the named clergy members died or resigned before the accusations were found credible, the diocese said, and nearly two-thirds of the priests named have died. Two of the 108 clergy members named were deacons. (The earliest clergy member included on the list was Monsignor John Cross, who was ordained in 1916.)