Cardinal Tobin has told clergy in his diocese not to speak to the press after a news report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct appeared on Catholic News Agency.
Six anonymous priests told CNA that a “gay sub-culture” existed in the Archdiocese of Newark, particularly in the seminary.
However, the cardinal said in a letter to priests that no one “including the anonymous ‘sources’ cited in the article” has ever spoken to him about such a sub-culture.
One of the allegations reported by CNA regarded Fr Mark O’Malley, who was removed from his position as rector of the diocesan seminary and placed on medical leave in 2014. Sources claimed he was accused of hiding a camera in another priest’s bedroom.
Cardinal Tobin said in the letter: “In April 2014, Father Mark O’Malley, who was serving at St. Andrew’s College, experienced a serious personal crisis for which he received a psychological evaluation and subsequent therapy. In April 2015, he was deemed fit for priestly ministry. He hopes to serve as a hospital chaplain.”
CNA also reported that Fr James Weiner – who was recently appointed as parish priest at St Andrew’s in Westwood, New Jersey – was under renewed investigation. Fr Weiner was identified as the previously unnamed man referred to in allegations of sexual assault made by Fr Desmond Rossi.
Fr Rossi claimed he was sexually assaulted by two transitional deacons in 1988. He received an out-of-court settlement of approximately $35,000 in 2004.
Cardinal Tobin said Fr Weiner’s case had been examined by a review board in 2003 “even though it did not involve an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor”. He said he had ordered a new investigation last month due to “new information and out of an abundance of caution in these most difficult times.”
The cardinal had been scheduled to install Fr Weiner as parish priest on September 15, but a parish bulletin last weekend said the installation had been delayed indefinitely due to a scheduling conflict.
The cardinal closed his letter by expressing his hope that the sources cited by CNA were not really priests in the diocese. CNA responded to confirm they were.
He also encouraged priests not to speak to the media, and instead refer all enquiries to archdiocese’s Director of Communications.
“I repeat my willingness to meet with any brother who wishes to share his concerns regarding allegations in the press or personal experience in our local Church,” he added.