Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Bishop provides update on Accountability Report

My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

In my letter of September 7, 2018, I announced the urgent need for administrative action with regards to the current crisis in the Church. Several initiatives have already begun and additional initiatives are planned. I am pleased to take this opportunity to report on these efforts.

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Diocese Releases Financial Accountability Report

My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

I write to you today to report the findings related to certain action items I communicated in my September 8, 2018 letter addressing the sexual abuse crisis as it has impacted our Diocese.

In my letter to the faithful, I announced that, by today, I would issue a comprehensive Financial Accountability Report regarding the settlement amounts for past claims of clergy sexual abuse of minors from the establishment of the Diocese to the present, along with a verified summary of the financial support currently provided by the Diocese to any priest who has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor and who is currently on administrative leave or has been laicized.

The much-needed financial accounting that is the focus of this report only hints at the profound toll of human and spiritual suffering caused by the sexual abuse of children. My hope is that as we communicate these findings, we will further the process of healing and reconciliation, address the legitimate desire for change, and restore your confidence in every level of leadership so that we can fully realize the divine mission of the Church.

Allow me to conclude by offering a personal reflection. My heart breaks at the harm to victims and betrayal of the faithful caused by the sin of abuse, and the Church’s repeated failure to act decisively and transparently to protect young people. I wish to express my heartfelt apology to all those affected by this tragedy. I also recognize that restoring trust will require the heroic witness of holiness on the part of every priest, especially myself. I am confident that the Lord will heal and strengthen us, one person at a time.

I pray that this financial report and other measures we are taking represent the beginning of a new chapter of transparency and accountability in the diocese and a significant step toward bringing closure to all those who have sought justice and a full accounting of an issue that has deeply wounded so many people and life of our entire Church.

During these troubling days, please be assured of my prayers for you and your families. I also ask that you continue to pray for the lay leadership of the Church, our clergy and for me.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

 

Click here to read the Financial Accountability Report.

Statement on Father Rebaque

Dear Parishioners of Saint Peter Parish,

I am writing to you this weekend to share some information regarding Father José Rebaque, S.A.C., who has served at Saint Peter’s since 2008, first as Parochial Vicar and, since July 2015, as Parochial Administrator. As you know, Father José has been absent from the parish for the past several weeks.

On September 17th, it was brought to the attention of the Diocese that, in January of 2017, Father José, while on a cruise sponsored by the parish, had shared a cabin on the ship with a 15-year-old boy. While Father José was traveling with this minor with the knowledge and consent of the boy’s parents, with whom he is close friends, and while there is no allegation of any kind of abuse, this was an egregious violation of the diocesan Code of Conduct. Therefore, the Diocese immediately began to investigate the matter and contacted Father José, who was traveling out of the country at the time.

On Tuesday, September 25th, at my direction, Monsignor Thomas Powers, Vicar General, met with Father José, who returned from his trip the night before, and informed him that, in accord with diocesan policy, he was immediately suspended from the exercise of priestly ministry while the matter was being investigated. Father José was instructed to vacate the rectory of Saint Peter Parish and to temporarily move into the Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford, which is the diocesan home for retired priests. The Diocese duly informed Father José’s religious superiors and brought the case before the Diocesan Review Board.

It is important to reiterate that Father José has not been accused of sexual abuse and that both the boy with whom he shared the cabin, and the boy’s parents, have stated that nothing inappropriate took place between them. However, because Father José’s decision was so imprudent and disregarded the safeguards that have been put into place to protect children, I have determined that, effective immediately, Father José will no longer serve as Parochial Administrator of Saint Peter Parish, nor have an assignment in the Diocese in the future. Since Father José is a member of the Pallottines, the Diocese has sent notice to his religious superiors of this action and has asked for their guidance regarding the course of action they wish to take regarding Father José’s future. While we await a response from his provincial, Father José will remain in residence at Queen of Clergy.

It is of great importance to me that the pastoral needs of Saint Peter Parish continue to be met, both now and in the future. For that reason, I will appoint a new Parochial Administrator, who will hopefully be in place in early December. During this time of transition, which I know will be difficult for some of you and for Father José, please keep everyone involved in your prayers. It is my intention to visit you personally as soon as I am able. Until then, be assured of my continued prayers for you, your families and Saint Peter Parish.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop Caggiano’s Statement on Abuse Crisis

OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the recent scandalous events regarding the crimes of sexual abuse against minors have come to light in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the earlier revelations regarding Archbishop McCarrick, I have been sick to my stomach. Words like horrifying, betrayal, and diabolical come to mind describing the evil abuse that was perpetrated against children, who were robbed of their innocence, and often of their faith and future. The failure of some bishops to report this evil is equally stunning and deeply sinful.

I believe that the Church is facing a moment of crisis that demands honesty and repentance from the bishops and decisive action to ensure that these failures will never happen again. The credibility of the bishops has been tarnished in the eyes of many, including many of our faithful. For some, it has even provoked a personal crisis of confidence in the Church itself, leading some to consider leaving their parishes. This is a wound that has been inflicted upon the Church that will not heal easily.

I invite you to join me to accompany one another during this time of sadness and anger and to strengthen one another in our Catholic faith. The strengthening of faith requires that the bishops of the Church acknowledge past failings among their brother bishops and hold everyone guilty accountable for their failures and crimes, whomever they may be.

The betrayal we feel concerning the cover-up of abuse pales in comparison to the suffering endured by the victims of sexual abuse—our sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, relatives and friends, who have been so deeply wounded and have struggled with the lifelong consequences of abuse. To those who suffered the evil of abuse, I wish to say that I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that you have endured. I am sorry for the times that you came forward and were not heard. I am sorry for the silence of those who could have stopped what you endured. I am sorry that you were betrayed at the hands of those who were to serve as your fathers in faith.

We stand with you and will continue to accompany you with our prayers and resources to find healing and peace. We must make this a defining moment for all those who have suffered, by doing everything humanly possible to root out the sin of sexual abuse from our Church.

Over the past few days, I have read intently many of the concrete proposals that bishops and lay leaders have put forward to address the past failures in leadership and to strengthen the measures already in place ensuring that our children, young people and vulnerable adults are safe and can flourish in our midst. Some of the proposals are innovative and merit greater reflection. It is my hope and prayer that through honest dialogue and careful reflection, the Church’s clerical and lay leaders on every level can create a plan to bring purification and renewal to our Church.

Despite the raw emotions that we may be feeling during this difficult time, I would encourage us to resist the impulse to despair or dismiss the sacrificial work of so many good priests whom you have come to know in your life of faith. For our good priests are also suffering because of the sins of their brothers.

It is also important that we not lose sight of the tremendous protections now in place in our diocese and other dioceses across the country. For over fifteen years, our Safe Environment programs have been effective in preventing abuse, encouraging early reporting, and ensuring swift removal of perpetrators through the Diocesan Review Board. Contact information for our Safe Environment Office can be found on the diocesan website and in the back of the Church. In our Diocese, we have also established a Misconduct Review Board, composed principally of lay members, to review any allegations of adult misconduct on the part of clergy.

Perhaps we have never been so aware of our frailty. Yet, while this is a serious time of challenge and crisis in the Church, there is always hope. I don’t come to you with an easy solution to a complex evil, but I believe that if we move forward in the solidarity of faith, a spirit of transparency and commitment to absolute accountability, we will renew the Church.

My friends, I am praying for you and your families each day at Mass during this difficult time. Please pray for me and my brother priests as well.

May the great Mother of God, our protector and intercessor, accompany us as we move forward to purify and renew our Church.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop Caggiano Letter 8-18-18 ESPANOL[2].pdf

INSTRUCCIONES PARA DENUNCIAR 2018 sospecha de abuso (1)[3].pdf

Bishop Caggiano Statement on Rev. John Stronkowski

OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

June 15, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with deep regret that I must inform you that I have placed Reverend John Stronkowski on administrative leave and have removed his faculties to exercise any and all forms of public ministry as a priest.

My decision was made after I determined, with the assistance of the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board, that there is credible evidence of an incident of abuse of a minor on the part of Father Stronkowski more than a decade ago. Upon first learning of this allegation in late September of last year, I immediately notified Father Stronkowski that the Diocese would fully investigate the information brought forward. I also informed him that, pending the outcome of the investigation, his priestly faculties and his ability to exercise any public ministry would continue to be suspended. For reasons not having anything to do with abuse of a minor, Father Stronkowski has been on a leave of absence from ministry since May, 2014.

In accordance with both state reporting mandates and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (commonly known as the Dallas Charter), we notified both the police and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) of the allegation. Given the limited information available and the amount of time which had passed, neither the police nor DCF took further action. As required by the Charter as well as our own policies, the Diocese then began a lengthy investigation into the allegation. As a result of this extensive and deliberative inquiry, which involved outside investigative resources and Diocesan advisers on such matters, the allegation was found to be credible. Significant supportive resources were made available to the victim throughout this confidential investigation. At the request of the victim and the victim’s family, we took every precaution to protect their privacy and we ask for continued respect of their privacy at this difficult time.

As a result of and in accordance with the Dallas Charter, Father Stronkowski is prohibited from any future ministry. Parish clergy and lay leadership where Father Stronkowski served were notified of my action in advance of this letter. We have taken steps to work with Father Stronkowski in this transition and provide him with support. In addition, Diocesan personnel are available through the Safe Environments Office as a resource to those affected. You should be aware that, other than this one reported incident, we have not received any other allegation of abuse of a minor by Father Stronkowski during his priestly assignments.

I realize that this is distressing news for the faithful and it further wounds the Diocese and our Church as a family of faith. I can only reassure you that we remain committed to a zero tolerance policy for child abuse and total transparency in the handling of cases.

I ask your prayers for all involved and pledge that we as a Diocese will continue to do everything in our power to fulfill the sacred obligation we share to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults in our community.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop Caggiano’s Statement on List of Accused Clerics

OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

November, 2014
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the “Charter”) requires, the Diocese of Bridgeport is re-promulgating its list of credibly accused clergy.

This list is published both ensure the ongoing protection of our children, youth and vulnerable adults and to assist in the healing of victims of clergy sexual abuse. In the interest of full transparency, we have included in this list both living and deceased clerics who were credibly accused of abuse or where the death of the cleric prevented further investigation of the alleged claims.

Both in keeping with the Charter’s provisions and out of a spirit of justice, I have not included in this list the names of those clerics who were both accused of sexual abuse and the allegation was found not to be credible. I have also not included in this list any cleric whose investigation has been impeded by judicial procedures outside of our control.

The sexual abuse of minors has created a great wound in the Church that must be healed through the Church’s credible and sustained efforts to ensure that all children, youth and vulnerable adults entrusted to its care are always kept safe and given the opportunity to grow in faith and love. To those victims who seek healing from the pain they have suffered, I offer my most sincere apology. I pray that with the Lord’s grace, you will feel the healing power of God and find peace and consolation in His Love. I also hope that the publication of this list will in some way help you and all the members of our Diocesan Church to find peace and assurance that we can move forward with confidence.

As the shepherd of the Diocese of Bridgeport, I take my responsibility to protect children very seriously and will continue to do everything that I can to implement our diocesan policies and procedures to ensure a safe environment for the most vulnerable in our midst.

Please be assured of my prayers as we continue down the road of recovery and healing with the strength of God’s love.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano Bishop of Bridgeport