TRUMBULL—Accountability of Church leadership for the abuse crisis was the focus of the second listening session led by Bishop Caggiano and held at St. Joseph High School.
In his update on the diocesan response to the sexual abuse crisis, the bishop said the diocese has taken major steps over the years to protect children, remove predators, create safe environments and to move forward in transparency.
He said the final piece will be an overall report on accountability by retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg, which is expected to be complete and released early this summer.
“I’m awaiting the findings in Judge Holzberg’s investigation of the way the diocese handled the issue and his recommendations going forward,” the bishop said. “People have asked for this independent verification and full transparency.”
Many of the comments made by the men and women who attended the session expressed anger about the failure of bishops across the country to address the crisis and expressed the need for change including a more active laity.
“My anger is that it was hidden and covered up and so many more were abused,” said a man who had driven from Stamford to participate. He said that one of his boyhood friends had been abused.
Others inquired about seminary training, the place of celibacy and the role of women in the Church. Two parents said that their children no longer attend Mass because of the abuse crisis and other issues.
The bishop said his immediate focus was on addressing the diocesan response to the crisis and rebuilding trust with all those who have been wounded.
“This has changed all of us,” the bishop said of the national crisis that began last summer with the Pennsylvania Grand Jury.
“Beyond whatever policies we put in place, there has to be a spiritual conversion. The rest of my ministry is rebuilding trust one person at a time. We must all become living bridges to Christ.”
The bishop said he is hopeful that the Church will be strengthened and renewed out of the “brokenness of the moment.”
Held just a couple of days after the Mass of Healing and Hope for victims of sexual abuse, the session was an occasion for Bishop Caggiano to thank the members of the healing committee of sexual abuse survivors who planned the Mass and reached out to others.
“One of the great blessings of the diocese has been the survivors who have come forward. They have become my friends and they are tremendous agents of healing in our midst,” the bishop said.
The bishop praised Erin Neil, diocesan safe environments coordinator, for the work she has done in reaching out to victims and creating safeguards that protect children.
EDITOR’S NOTE: PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TIME AND PLACE FOR THE FINAL LISTENING SESSION HAS BEEN CHANGED. THE LISTENING SESSION WILL BE HELD ON MAY 1, 7 PM AT ST. JOSEPH CHURCH, 163 WHISCONIER ROAD IN BROOKFIELD. ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND.
(A full accounting of the diocesan response to the abuse crisis including a financial accountability report and a full list of resources can be found on the “Pledge to Protect” page of the diocesan website. Visit: www.bridgeportdiocese.org/pledge/welcome.)