Priest who Allegedly Abused Man in New Jersey Remains in Ministry in Brazil
It is heartbreaking that a New Jersey victim has been treated so poorly by church officials in New Jersey. But it’s infuriating that the priest who reportedly assaulted him is still on the job. For the safety of children, New Jersey Catholic officials must remedy this immediately.
Specifically, we urge Newark’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin to use any and all means available to warn communities in Brazil about Fr. Rene Lima. Tobin must give Lima’s personnel file to every law enforcement agency he can and should use church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements to beg anyone with information or suspicions about Lima to call police and prosecutors. He then must write to the the bishops of Brazil, warning them about Lima and urging them to do similar outreach, and to every possible Vatican office that might help, prodding them to act.
These steps are critical to ensuring that no child in Brazil experiences what Johnrocco Sibilia did in New Jersey. But Newark officials should not stop there: they should also explain why they told Mr. Sibilia that his claims would be forwarded to church officials in Guarulhos and why church officials there are saying they never received any warning.
Lima’s direct supervisors, a Catholic religious order known as the Society of Divine Vocations (SDV), also known as the Vocationist Fathers, should do everything that we are urging Cardinal Tobin to do, and more. Not only should they immediately suspend Lima, but they must also explain how he was transferred internationally in the first place. Such dangerous and reckless moves require an explanation.
Finally, we commend Mr. Sibilia for having the courage to report his abuse and to reveal the fact that Catholic officials are endangering children by keeping Fr. Lima on the job. By speaking out, survivors can both protect children and help themselves and others find justice, healing and prevention.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
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