By Tim Harfmann
The clergy list is the latest step the Diocese of Brooklyn is taking to protect children and help survivors. But for years, the Church in Brooklyn and Queens — and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio — have been very active in combating the scourge of abuse. The bishop held regional meetings with lay faithful in both boroughs last year – where he pledged to release the names of clergy credibly accused of abuse. In each of the four sessions, he answered every question that anyone asked. As part of his ‘zero tolerance’ policy, the bishop established an independent reporting telephone number that’s linked directly to the district attorney’s office for investigation.
The diocese also has the Safe Environment Office, run by Maryellen Quinn. She is in charge of training programs that prevent abuse. “The diocese is required to train and screen all adults who have access to children, and we are also required to instruct our children,” said Quinn.
According to Quinn, so far 60,000 children are instructed each year on how to identify and report abuse. In addition, 82,000 adults, including clergy and lay people, have been taught to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.
jasmine Salazar is the diocese’s vice chancellor and victim assistance coordinator. “The diocese is heavily involved in outreach to victims and providing assistance to victims who were abused as minors by members of the clergy,” said Salazar. That includes therapy and the annual Mass of Hope and Healing, organized by abuse survivors. The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, started in 2017, compensates survivors as a means of healing and closure.
When the list of clerics was released Friday, January 15th, Bishop DiMarzio also put out a video to communicate with the faithful. “In the past 17 years, there have been two credible cases involving active, diocesan clergy in the Diocese of Brooklyn. While even one is too many, this shows that we are on the right path to ensuring these horrendous acts of abuse are never repeated,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
Anthony Hughes is a survivor and said he was ignored when he first reported being abused to the Church. But there’s been a big change under Bishop DiMarzio. “They always return your call. They’re always there for you when times are really tough. They’ve never turned their back on me in the last few years,” said Hughes.
As the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program wraps up, Bishop DiMarzio said the diocese is committed to continuing to assist victims and will conduct a private compensation program for those who wish to participate.