Church officials: Victims with pre-2002 offers free to speak

TRENTON, N. J. – Sex-abuse victims need to keep quiet by means of settlement agreements be able to speak openly about their trials, and New Jersey Catholic Church officials said on Tuesday.

The New Jersey Catholic Conference said earlier this week, the church has no objection if the victims want to speak out. The group, which represents the state’s bishops, on the policy, came after Democratic state Sen. Joe Vitale calls on the church to release abuse victims from confidentiality agreements.

“Some of the victims have requested confidentiality and the dioceses have honored those requests. The settlements were intended only to compensate the victims, not silence them,” the statement said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has excluded such agreements on the basis of a 2002 charter, unless a victim requests confidentiality, but the New Jersey conference, is the waiving of an obligation of confidentiality for those rules.

The conference said Newark Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Tobin and the state of the bishops won’t object to that, as victims, with such deals prior to 2002 to come to the front.

It is unclear how many appointments are made before and after the 2002 charter. The conference said that it does not have that information.

New Jersey, this month launched a task force to begin a criminal investigation of abuse allegations, following the Pennsylvania grand jury report this year found that more than 1,000 children had been abused in the course of decades, with about 300 priests.

There are no costs have been announced in the New Jersey probe, but Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, which the task force, said Tuesday an abuse victim hotline is “ringing off the hook.” So, he said, that he had more staff to field the calls — some of which are multiple abuse.

Catholic dioceses in other states have also said that the victims are free to speak. In the one case that made headlines in Pennsylvania, two sisters asked a judge to invalidate an agreement to maintain secrecy about the abuse of the case. The Harrisburg diocese said that there was nothing to prevent the women from speaking.

New Jersey Catholic Conference The New Jersey Catholic Conference has said that it welcomes the state of the investigation and will “cooperate fully.”

The executive director Patrick Brannigan said earlier that he is confident that the attorney-general of the dioceses are in compliance with the 2002 memorandum of understanding that abuse complaints would be reported to law enforcement.

Brannigan also said that “New Jersey is not in Pennsylvania.”

The conference estimates there are 3.5 million Catholics in the state.

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