Auxiliary Bishop in NYC Accused of Abuse in January
An auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York has been removed from his post following a credible allegation of abuse.
Yet despite decades of pledging "openness" in such cases, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has not shown such transparency in this case. According to the New York Times, Cardinal Dolan first learned of the allegations against Bishop John Jenik in January but waited ten months to take decisive action. It is likely that church officials would say that they were investigating these claims over the past ten months, but the fact is that it should be law enforcement, not church-appointed review boards, who investigate cases to determine when allegations are credible and whether a crime occurred. Instead of waiting until now, Dolan should have notified authorities in January.
It is notable, too, that Dolan defends himself and his colleague by writing that the allegation “concerns incidents from decades ago,” as if that somehow mitigates the pain the abuse caused. Rather than try to minimize what Jenik’s alleged victim experienced, we believe Dolan should focus on finding other victims now and should encourage anyone with information or suspicions to contact the police. He should share his announcement with every parish that Bishop Jenik spent time at and should use parish bulletins and websites to spread the word that anyone who may have seen or suspected abuse should make a report to independent authorities.
Cardinal Dolan wrote that Bishop Jenik will be stepping aside while the matter is investigated. Yet bishops have pledged to suspend clerics accused of abuse, not let them voluntarily resign. The difference is important, and Dolan should take steps to suspend Bishop Jenik immediately.
(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)