New York, Sep 20 (EFE).- New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan on Thursday named retired Federal Judge Barbara Jones to conduct an “independent, scrupulous” review of the cases of sexual abuse the Catholic Church is facing and recommend how to deal with them.
Jones – who also reviewed the documents confiscated by the FBI from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney – will examine and evaluate the cases and then make recommendations to improve the response of the archdiocese, the second-largest in the US, to the sexual abuse crisis facing the Church, Cardinal Dolan said at a press conference.
To do that, the Church has guaranteed the judge access to Church records, personnel and to Dolan himself.
The move comes two weeks after the New York attorney general announced a full investigation into how the state’s Catholic Church and its leaders have handled abuse allegations.
Calling the recent accusations and revelations of sexual abuse by priests and other church workers a “summer of hell,” Dolan said that “If I lost the trust of my people and this community, I don’t have a lot left,” and told Jones, who appeared with him at the press conference, that he was praying for a “careful review and hard questions will help my good people renew their trust in the church they love and the leaders they want to believe.”
He mentioned as an example the case of Washington Archbishop Emeritus Theodore McCarrick, 88, who stands accused of committing sexual abuse 50 years ago when he was a priest in New York, accusations that he has denied.
The New York archdiocese announced on June 20 that an investigatory commission had determined that the accusations were credible.
After the complaints of sexual abuse surfaced, Cardinal McCarrick presented his resignation, which Pope Francis accepted.
The pontiff also ordered him to be removed from his public functions and to await a canonical trial in seclusion.
Two years ago, the New York Archdiocese announced the creation of an independently administered fund to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse provided they were willing to forego lawsuits, and that fund so far has paid $60 million to such victims.
The 71-year-old Jones, who retired from the Manhattan federal bench in 2013, meanwhile, said that she had begun a preliminary review of the Church procedures and practices going back 25 years, adding that so far she had found “a robust infrastructure in place with the archdiocese. But my job now will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing programs and policies in that infrastructure.”