News Story of the Day

Camden diocese faces wave of clergy sex-abuse claims

Jim Walsh
Cherry Hill Courier-Post
Published September 1, 2021

CAMDEN - The Diocese of Camden faces 345 new claims of alleged clergy sex abuse as part of its ongoing bankruptcy case, according to attorneys involved in the dispute.

The claims are currently in the early stage of a mediation process while the two sides also battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said lawyers for clergy accusers.

"An accurate accounting and inventory of all cases will be required before any meaningful settlement discussions can be undertaken," said John Baldante, a Haddonfield attorney who filed 70 of the claims.

Among other factors, the parties in mediation need to identify "insurance coverage from past decades applicable to these sexual abuses," Baldante said.

"There is still significant work to ascertain the assets of the diocese, as well as its numerous parishes, churches, schools and entities," he noted.

Sharon rabbi: ‘Hundreds’ may have been abused by USY adviser

From Jewish Journal - 

(Editor’s note: This article con­­tains explicit sexual content.)

Amid a flurry of lawsuits and allegations that as many as hundreds of former members of United Synagogue Youth may have been abused by a longtime adviser, a prominent Sharon rabbi has become the first to publicly detail the alleged abuse.

Rabbi Jordan Soffer, the head of school at Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, has alleged that Ed Ward – who worked with Jewish children for decades as an educator, adviser and camp counselor for USY and its umbrella organization, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism – sexually assaulted him during morning prayer services at a USY convention when Soffer was 15.

What's next for the Catholic church? Devoted parishioners, veteran priest share thoughts after Child Victim's Act

What’s next for the Catholic church? Devoted parishioners, veteran priest share thoughts after Child Victims Act.

Rosary beads

Parishioners clutch rosary beads at a church on Staten Island in this file photo. (Staten Island Advance)

A WINDOW CLOSED. AN ISLAND CHANGED. This story is the second in a four-part series examining the impact of the Child Victims Act.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Scores of priests who served many different Catholic churches on Staten Island over the years have been named in either substantiated complaints of sex abuse or allegations being played out in civil court.

So how do parishioners feel about the controversy? What about a monsignor ordained in the early ‘60s? Has it shaken their faith? And what would they like to see come next?


One plaintiff who recently filed a lawsuit under the Child Victims Act alleges he was victimized by a priest at St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills, then later a Great Kills Babe Ruth League coach.

The suit names in part former priest Ralph LaBelle, who served at St. Clare’s from 1979 to 1985. It is one of about a half dozen lawsuits alleging LaBelle abused victims while he was assigned to the parish.

A man attending a recent service at the church said he plans to continue attending, though changes within the church are needed — especially when it comes to marriage.

“Maybe it’s a problem with the church not letting priests have marital relationships,” said Francesco Sciortino, 34, of Great Kills. “The Church of Christ is one thing... but the church that’s been built by man gets corrupt and there’s issues, so it’s not perfect.”

Judi Mondone, who was outside St. Margaret Mary’s in Midland Beach on a recent Sunday, suggested changes to the “hiring process” of priests.

“Why does it have to be men?” she said. “They’re able to have girls be altar servers, so why can’t women [be priests]?


After 60 years of delivering Mass on Staten Island, Monsignor Thomas Bergin says he knew many of the priests on some level who have been accused of misconduct or forced out of the church, but wasn’t aware at the time of any sexual misconduct.

“Hindsight is worth a lot, so when you hear that about somebody you think, ‘well maybe I should have... there should have been a caution light with this guy,’” Monsignor Bergin said. “It’s a horror; I throw my hands up and say ‘why.’”

He said he doesn’t think allowing priests to get married is the answer, based on the fact married men also are arrested for pedophilia.

“My experiences with guys over the years is they come in with the best intentions... but somewhere along the line — and I don’t think it’s because they’re single or unmarried — maybe they lose the perspective they had when they entered and get involved in some of these horrible things.”

One part of the process that has changed in recent years is the age at which men are becoming ordained priests. While at one time entering the seminary after high school or even grammar school, a 2013 survey found the median age of ordinands that year was 32.

Monsignor Bergin said he’s also noticed a shift in some parishioners’ reverence for priests at Sunday Mass, where in some cases he said parishioners now prefer the title “sir” instead of “father.”

“There’s a general sense of ‘we’re all equal, nobody’s on a pedestal anymore, and we’re all God’s children.”

Sacred Heart R.C. Church

Sacred Heart R.C. Church in West Brighton.


A former altar boy at Sacred Heart R.C. Church in West Brighton recently levied shocking claims of sexual and verbal abuse perpetrated decades ago by a priest.

According to the lawsuit, the victim was 11 years old when he was first abused by Rev. Thomas Curley. The alleged incidents occurred on church property, except for one time on a parish-sponsored bus trip to an amusement park. Some happened on or near the altar, the filing alleges.

A 19-year-old woman attending a recent Mass at the church said the onslaught of lawsuits over the past two years haven’t impacted her practice of worship.

“I’ve just always been faithful throughout my life since I was a kid,” said Julia C. of Willowbrook. “I’ve just never really changed because I’ve grown up in the Catholic schools and always felt pretty safe I guess.”


Our Lady Star of the Sea was one of several parishes named in recent accusations of sexual abuse over the years by local priests. (Google Maps)


In July, Rev. Thomas Devery penned a letter to parishioners at Our Lady Star of the Sea R.C. Church in Huguenot announcing he’d be leaving his post while an accusation of sex abuse is investigated.

He referenced in his message a previous allegation of sex abuse that he claimed was found to be unsubstantiated.

“Now, a second lawsuit has been filed against me, again alleging sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago,” the pastor’s letter said. “As with the earlier allegation, I steadfastly deny this new allegation, and trust that it, too, will be found to be unsubstantiated.

Outside the church on a recent Sunday, one parishioner said that, while she believes many of the allegations of sex abuse within the Catholic church are legitimate, she questioned those levied against Father Devery, as well as a second priest at the parish, Rev. Basil Akut.

“I’m sure there are absolutely people who have been abused... but I don’t believe that [they] did anything,” said Diane Patton, 63, of Tottenville.

Another parishioner in her 70s said she feels several things could be changed in how the hierarchy of the Catholic church is structured to help prevent future acts of sex abuse.

“It goes all the way to the top,” said the Prince’s Bay woman, who asked only her initials A.K. be published. “Things have to change and it needs to be done pretty soon, because the more these scandals come out the more people that are losing not their faith, but their trust.”


“I’m sure some people have left and don’t come anymore because of the scandals, which have killed us, of course,” Monsignor Bergin said. “But my perspective has been...they still value [priests], they still cherish us.”

He spoke about one of the things he cherishes about Sundays, saying it’s the conversations with parishioners on the steps of the church after Mass that keep him going.

“It’s a great booster, because your morale can get shot when you hear case after case after case,” the Monsignor said.

“From my perspective as a guy who’s been on the Island for so many years, the people are still faithful.”

As an investigative reporter, Jason Berry exposed the church’s systematic cover-up of sexual abuse. Somehow, it wasn’t enough.

The First Report
By Ben Proudfoot•August 24, 2021
As an investigative reporter, Jason Berry

Catholic Officials on Edge After Reports of Priests Using Grindr

A conservative Catholic media organization, The Pillar, has published several reports claiming the use of dating apps at several churches and the Vatican.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. One report made claims about the use of Grindr by unnamed people in unspecified rectories in the Archdiocese of Newark.
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. One report made claims about the use of Grindr by unnamed people in unspecified rectories in the Archdiocese of Newark. Credit...Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
Aug. 20, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

The reports hit the Roman Catholic Church in rapid succession: Analyses of cellphone data obtained by a conservative Catholic blog seemed to show priests at multiple levels of the Catholic hierarchy in both the United States and the Vatican using the gay hookup app Grindr.

The first report, published late last month, led to the resignation of Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, the former general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference. The second, posted online days later, made claims about the use of Grindr by unnamed people in unspecified rectories in the Archdiocese of Newark. The third, published days after that, claimed that in 2018 at least 32 mobile devices emitted dating app data signals from within areas of Vatican City that are off-limits to tourists.

The reports by the blog, The Pillar, have unnerved the leadership of the American Catholic Church and have introduced a potentially powerful new weapon into the culture war between supporters of Pope Francis and his conservative critics: cellphone data, which many users assume to be unavailable to the general public.

“When there is reporting out there that claims to expose activity like this in parishes around the country and also on Vatican grounds, that is a five-alarm fire for church officials, there is no doubt about it,” said John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a progressive advocacy grou


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– The review of more than a thousand accusations of sexual abuse by Illinois catholic clergy is ongoing.

‘Never one word was ever uttered’: The road to healing after decades of silence over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

Coalition Calls on Hochul to Take Bold Action to Reform Albany - SNAP fully supports The Adult Survivors Act (S.66 Hoylman / A.648 L. Rosenthal)

Coalition Calls on Hochul to Take Bold Action to Reform Albany - SNAP fully supports The Adult Survivors Act (S.66 Hoylman / A.648 L. Rosenthal)

Diocese bankruptcy filings shows its spent almost $1 million on attorneys in 4 months

Sun, August 15, 2021
Aug. 15—NORWICH — Over the past four months the Diocese of Norwich has spent nearly $1 million on attorneys' fees relating to its recent bankruptcy filing.

In addition, the diocese placed its assets such as cash, investments, cars and accounts receivable at $21.2 million but has not determined the current value of the 14 properties it owns. It lists its current liabilities at $2.9 million but that does not include the more than 60 lawsuits by men who say they were raped and sexually assaulted as boys by Christian Brothers and other staff at the diocese-run Mount Saint John Academy in Deep River.

CBS THIS MORNING- Saturday marks three years since a landmark grand jury report concluded the Catholic church covered up rampant sexual abuse in Pennsylvania for decades.

Saturday marks three years since a landmark grand jury report concluded the Catholic church covered up rampant sexual abuse in Pennsylvania for decades.
Nikki Battiste checked back in with survivors she first spoke to in 2018, who say little progress has been made.

Child abuse survivors wait for justice, healing as CVA deadline passes with nearly 10K lawsuits filed

Sean Lahman-Diana Dombrowski-Saba Ali
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
August 13, 2021

When legislators in New York passed the Child Victims Act in 2019, it was prompted by an understanding that survivors of sexual abuse were struggling to heal and needed help. Outdated laws kept them from finding justice through the courts, and the institutions which had fostered the abuse were slow to respond on their own.

What the legislators did not understand, perhaps, was how pervasive the sexual abuse of children had been across the state and the sheer number of individuals who had been victimized.


SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant