The Catholic Church in New Jersey has committed substantial resources to prevent any abuse of any child at any time by any person. The Church has comprehensive policies in place both to respond to – and of far more importance - to prevent the sexual abuse of minors.
Additionally, each diocese is subjected to annual outside, independent audits, and all New Jersey dioceses have been found to be fully compliant with national guidelines established to prevent the sexual abuse of minors.
PREVENTION OF ABUSE
- Safe Environment: All New Jersey dioceses have fully implemented comprehensive “safe environment” education programs and have together, over the past ten years, trained more than 3.1 million adults, children, employees, clergy and volunteers.
- Background Checks: In addition to clear and well-publicized standards of conduct, the dioceses conduct background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. Over the past ten years, over 360,000 criminal background checks have been completed.
RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE
- Prompt reporting to Civil Authorities: All of the New Jersey dioceses have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Attorney General and the County Prosecutors to facilitate the immediate intervention of law enforcement whenever there is any allegation that a minor is being sexually abused. The dioceses also promptly report all past allegations of abuse to public authorities, whether the person bringing the complaint is now an adult, no matter how long ago the abuse is alleged to have occurred, and whether or not the accused is living or deceased.
- Zero Tolerance/Permanent Removal from Ministry: When sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or a deacon is established, diocesan policies provide that the offending priest or deacon is to be permanently removed from ministry and may not be transferred to another diocese.
- Therapeutic and Pastoral Response: Each diocese has a Victim Assistance Coordinator, who facilitates the provision of counseling and other professional assistance to help those who have been abused. In addition, all victims have the opportunity to meet with the bishop in order to facilitate healing.