Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
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.
I have commissioned the creation of this website and will ensure that it is continuously updated to demonstrate that the Diocese of Bridgeport is transparent and fully accountable in its policies, programs, and response to the sexual abuse of minors. This newly designed website brings together and updates information concerning diocesan Safe Environments efforts, its outreach to victims of clerical sexual abuse, and its comprehensive policies and practices to prevent future abuse and intervene immediately when allegations are brought forward.
The Diocese of Bridgeport can never fully make right the suffering of victims and the sins of the past, but we are committed to bringing healing and reconciliation to all those affected by the crisis and to rebuild trust through many of the spiritual and administrative measures described in these pages.
Permit me at this point to express my deep gratitude to all of you who have written or called the Catholic Center during the national crisis triggered by the news reports of the failure of the Church hierarchy to truthfully and effectively deal with sexual abuse and other issues. You have articulated your anger, concern, and demand for change, while also affirming your deep love for the Church, for the priests who serve you, and for the gift of the Eucharist in our lives and parish communities.
I ask you not to lose heart and to join me in showing support for the dedicated priests and lay faithful who serve throughout our diocese. With your virtuous witness and continued prayers, we can work together to strengthen our protection of our children, work towards healing, and promote a culture of accountability and transparency within the Church.
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,
The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
The Diocese of Bridgeport is dedicated to ensuring the safety of all children in our Diocese. We pledge:
- We pledge to be transparent and accountable in decision making, financial practices, and protection of minors.
- We will never permit a member of the clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against him to remain in active ministry within the diocese or any other priestly ministry.
- We will immediately remove a member of the clergy or any other Church worker from active ministry during an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor.
- The diocese holds itself accountable for addressing misconduct whenever we are made aware of it.
- Any allegations of sexual abuse of a minor will be immediately reported to the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) or to the police.
- We will continue the Diocese of Bridgeport’s strong track record of cooperation with law enforcement and civil authorities.
- All priests, deacons, employees, and volunteers who interact with children will continue to be trained on how to spot signs of abuse and neglect through the VIRTUS program.
- All priests, deacons and employees who are mandated reporters will inform authorities of suspicions and allegations of abuse.
- We take very seriously all reported incidents of misconduct by members of the clergy or other Church workers, and the diocese will investigate even non-criminal misconduct with appropriate diligence.
- We will not transfer a member of the clergy who is under investigation for misconduct.
- Any member of the clergy who is credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor will lose priestly faculties and will be permanently removed from all ministry.
- We will adhere with diligence to all of our internal policies and procedures.
- We will continue to strengthen our institutional training, screening, and monitoring of all clergy members, employees, and volunteers.
- We 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.
- We will continue to uphold the teachings of the Church, especially in the areas of sexual morality, and will continue to enforce a strict, diligent and comprehensive screening process for all seminary applicants.
- We will stand with the victims of sexual abuse and continue to accompany them with our prayers, resources, and commitment.
- We will make this a defining moment by doing everything possible to root out the sin of sexual abuse and secrecy in our Church.
- We are committed to fairly investigating any accusation against you. If the accusation proves to be false, we will defend your good name, including with legal resources if necessary.
- We will honor your rights and ensure that due process is followed if you are ever accused of misconduct.
- We will provide you with even better on-going formation, tools, and resources to ensure your physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being.
- We will ensure that the continual evaluation process, while rigorous, is fair.
- We will continue to provide honorable and trustworthy priests to oversee your formation.
- You will be heard if you have a concern or complaint about a formator priest, professor, or brother seminarian.
- We will do everything in our power to help you become the holy priests God called you to be.
Our track record here in the Diocese of Bridgeport
As we seek to respond to the national crisis and respond to the challenges in our own diocese, it is important that we not lose sight of the tremendous protections now in place. For over 15 years our Safe Environments programs have been effective in preventing abuse, encouraging early reporting and ensuring swift removal of perpetrators through the Diocese Review Board.
Most recently, I commissioned a Financial Accountability Report that will address transparency regarding past incidents of sexual abuse of minors and a financial report that addresses settlement amounts for past claims and includes sources from which the funds were obtained and other information on financial support of accused clergy.
Also, be assured that I support the involvement of the laity in an independent investigation into the various facets of the wider crisis within the Church.
On October 3rd, I 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.
Judge Holzberg, who has extensive experience as an investigator, mediator and arbitrator, will lead the Accountability Investigation by overseeing a comprehensive analysis and review of claims of clerical sexual abuse of minors, the Diocese’s knowledge of such abuse and its response to allegations of alleged clergy abuse. As part of his investigation, Holzberg will have complete and unrestricted access to all Diocesan files, records and archives dating from 1953, when the Diocese was founded, to the present, and the opportunity to interview Diocesan clergy and administrators with information relevant to his inquiry.
Work on the Accountability Investigation will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by Spring 2019. Judge Holzberg will direct a team of attorneys and investigators to conduct the investigation.
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.
Accountability and Transparency
The Diocese has completed a full financial report of settlement amounts for past claims regarding clergy sexual abuse of minors from the establishment of the Diocese to date. The report includes the sources from where the money was obtained to settle those claims. This financial report was issued on October 31, 2018.
This list includes the names of accused Diocesan Clerics or accused Religious Order Priests who served in the Diocese of Bridgeport. You'll find birthdates, if they're living or deceased, the year they died, their status, the location of their diocesan assignments and ministries, the year of removal from ministry and/or laicization and date when the accused cleric was convicted where applicable.
Judge Robert L. Holzberg is overseeing the Accountability Investigation by reviewing a comprehensive analysis of claims of clerical sexual abuse of minors, the Diocese’s knowledge of such abuse and its response to allegations and information concerning the alleged abuse. Work has begun immediately and is expected to be completed by Spring 2019.
“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.”
— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his response to the sexual abuse crisis