Cardinal Edward Egan's Letter

March 23, 2002

New York Times


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Following is the text of the letter sent by Cardinal Edward
Egan to parishioners in the Archdiocese of New York on
March 23, as reported by The Associated Press.

My Dear Friends in the Lord,

There can be no doubt:
sexual abuse of children is an abomination. It is both
immoral and illegal and I will not tolerate it. Be assured,
that I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure
the safety and security of every child in this Archdiocese.
Should any priest sexually abuse a child, he will be
removed from pastoral ministry. My heart goes out to any
and all victims and their families.

The explosive headlines of the last few weeks have focused
everyone's attention on the issue of sexual abuse of minors
by a small number of clergy. The overwhelming majority of
our good and dedicated priests, who do splendid work day
after day, have found their reputations unfairly tarnished
by the terrible misdeeds of a few.

Let me be clear. I regard any accusation of sexual abuse
with the utmost seriousness. Should the Archdiocese of New
York be approached with an allegation, we will make the
appropriate report to the proper authorities; if there is
reasonable cause to suspect abuse and the victim does not
oppose the reporting. I would strongly encourage, however,
anyone who has an allegation of sexual abuse to bring it to
the proper civil authorities directly and immediately.

It has been and continues to be the policy of the
Archdiocese of New York to thoroughly investigate all
allegations and to respond appropriately and pastorally to
the person making the allegation and to the clergyman as
well. The policy states: "Each reported incident will be
immediately investigated, with care taken not to interfere
with any criminal investigation, and with a high level of
Christian care, concern, and confidentiality for the
alleged victim, the family of the alleged victim, the
person reporting the incident, and the alleged perpetrator.


The policy of the Archdiocese further requires any
personnel of the Archdiocese having information concerning
sexual abuse to immediately report it. A review of the
report shall be undertaken to determine the validity of
each claim. If the alleged claim appears substantiated, and
after consultation with competent Archdiocesan officials,
the alleged perpetrator shall be removed from any function,
responsibility or ministry until the matter is resolved.
For the person bringing the allegation, and without
commenting on the truth of the accusation, medical,
psychological and spiritual assistance, and in appropriate
instances, economic assistance, may be offered in the
spirit of Christian charity.

A March 17th article in a Hartford newspaper, widely
reported in the local media, focused on what the writers
claimed were mishandled cases of child abuse by clergy
during my tenure in the Diocese of Bridgeport. About these
cases, the following points need to be made:

First, in every case discussed in the article, the alleged
abuse occurred prior to my appointment as Bishop of
Bridgeport.

Second, the policy and practice that I established for the
Diocese and followed in every instance required that any
clergy accused of sexual misconduct with a minor was, after
preliminary diocesan investigation, to be sent immediately
to one of the most prominent psychiatric institutions in
the nation for evaluation. If the conclusions were
favorable, he was returned to ministry, in some cases with
restrictions, so as to be doubly careful. If they were not
favorable, he was not allowed to function as a priest.

Third, in all of the cases, the plaintiffs were already
adults represented by attorneys and seeking financial
settlements from the Diocese. These cases were well
publicized, and a matter of public record at the time. At
no time in these discussions did any representative of the
Diocese discourage the plaintiffs or their attorneys from
contacting civil authorities.

Fourth, inasmuch as they were represented by legal counsel,
direct communications between myself and the plaintiffs
were precluded.

In closing, it is my intent to keep the people of the
Archdiocese informed regarding these matters as the
situation warrants. Moreover, I pledge to you that I am
totally and unconditionally committed to protecting our
children from abuse of any kind. My clergy, who are good
and holy men, join me in this. As I said earlier this week,
our children are to be protected always, and in this the
Archdiocese of New York will be ever vigilant.

Faithfully in Christ,

Edward Cardinal Egan

Archbishop
of New York

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