BRIDGEPORT—“Many words have been said regarding the crime of sexual abuse of minors and the scandals that these crimes have produced, words that are needed to express our grief, anger and confusion. However, words alone are insufficient. The time for further action has come,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, in his letter to all those visiting the new A Pledge to Protect website, which launched on October 30.
This website (www.bridgeportdiocese.org/pledge) is one of the many ways that the bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport has planned to address the abuse crisis in the Church by focusing on a movement toward accountability and transparency.
“This newly designed website brings together and updates information concerning diocesan Safe Environments efforts, our outreach to victims and survivors of clerical sexual abuse, and the comprehensive policies and practices we have put in place to prevent future abuse and intervene immediately when allegations are brought forward,” said Bishop Caggiano.
The bishop acknowledges that, although we can never fully atone for the pain caused to the victims of clerical sexual abuse, healing, reconciliation and rebuilding trust must be the Church’s goal.
“It is my desire to attack this evil in a variety of ways, starting with a series of spiritual initiatives and administrative actions. Our spiritual efforts focus on the grave need for the clergy to seek reparation for the past sins of those who have sinned and harmed innocent children and young people,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his response to the sexual abuse crisis.
A Pledge to Protect outlines specific promises to everyone that has been affected, which is the whole Church. The bishop specifically addresses the faithful of the diocese, the clergy and the seminarians.
Most recently, Bishop Caggiano has commissioned a Financial Accountability Report that will address transparency regarding past incidents of sexual abuse of minors and a financial report that will address settlement amounts for past claims, include sources from which the funds were obtained and other information on financial support of accused clergy. The report will be issued on Wednesday October 31.
The website also links to the Safe Environments page, which has all necessary information about registering for VIRTUS training, which is required by all diocesan volunteers and employees, reporting an incident, resources for survivors and background checks. In an effort of full transparency, there is a list of accused clerics, which includes the names of accused diocesan clerics or accused religious order priests who served in the Diocese of Bridgeport.
On October 3, the bishop announced that retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, who is a partner in the law firm of Pullman & Comley LLC of Hartford and Bridgeport, will serve as counsel and lead investigator for the Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Investigation being conducted for the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Results of the investigation will be presented in a public report that will address sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Diocese of Bridgeport, along with the response of Church leadership to that abuse. The report will also contain any relevant recommendations to the bishop resulting from the review.
Bishop Caggiano has also released a number of spiritual initiatives in an effort of healing and reparation throughout the diocese and the greater Church. On the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Saturday, September 15, Bishop Caggiano led a Holy Hour with Rosary and a Mass of Reparation and Purification at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Bridgeport, which more than 800 priests, deacons, religious and laity attended.
The bishop also asked all pastors to celebrate a local Mass of Reparation in their own parishes no later than October 31. After the diocesan Mass of Reparation, the bishop led the faithful in reciting the St. Michael Prayer, which he has now mandated to be said after Mass in every parish throughout the diocese.
“Along with A Pledge to Protect website, all these initiatives act as tangible steps toward healing for the whole Church, as we move forward in transparency, accountability and hope,” says Bishop Caggiano.
(Visit the new A Pledge to Protect website at: www.bridgeportdiocese.org/pledge).