The New York Times reported that on Wednesday, Roman Catholic bishops in New Jersey named nearly 200 priests accused of sexual abusing a child. Most of the priests who were identified by the bishops are already dead. The accusations against them involved abuse from decades ago.
One of the names on the list was Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal. He was one of the highest-profile Catholic figures in modern times to be defrocked.
The New Jersey bishops’ decision to publish the names of the abusers comes after a grand jury report in Pennsylvania a summer ago which outlined seventy years of accusations.
Since then many dioceses and religious orders around the country have released similar lists. Together, all of these lists create a disturbing picture of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
“I beg your forgiveness,” Cardinal Joseph Tobin wrote in a letter accompanying the list of 63 priests accused in the Newark archdiocese. “It is our sincerest hope that this disclosure will help bring healing to those whose lives have been so deeply violated.”
The diocese in Camden released the names of 56 priests and a deacon who have been accused of abuse. Trenton named 30 priests, Paterson named 28 priests and a deacon. The Metuchen diocese named ten priests and a deacon.
Catholic officials describe the release of the names as a move toward transparency. While some victims feel validated by seeing their abusers name on a published list, others say the disclosures do not amount to true accountability.
“Fortunately, folks in New Jersey do not have to rely on Catholic hierarchs for the kind of transparency that we are asking for,” the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or Snap, said in a statement on Wednesday. “We know that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has been steadfast in his investigation into clergy abuse in his state and just a few months ago served subpoenas to uncover documents related to clergy abuse in New Jersey.”
Grewal said that a tip line created by the task force has received hundreds of calls about abuse by Catholic clergy.
“I hope this spirit of openness continues during the course of our ongoing investigation and in response to our requests for records and information,” he said, adding, “Our investigation remains ongoing because no institution or individual is immune from accountability.”