Exclusive: Bishop Of Camden Diocese Speaks About Church Sex Abuse Scandal
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – Bishop Joseph Galante did not think the interview was a big deal.
“I’ve never felt that the media was an enemy,” smiled the Bishop of the Diocese of Camden.
But the hour he gave Eyewitness News Friday afternoon makes him the only church leader in the area to speak with the media since the latest grand jury report about priest sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“I was very, very saddened and disappointed,” Bishop Galante said about the report.
Bishop Galante said the church needs to be as open as possible about its actions and accusations of abuse.
“If someone was removed for abuse, that’s announced publicly in our Diocesan paper and otherwise,” said Bishop Galante about any accusations of abuse the Diocese of Camden, which spans the six southern counties of New Jersey.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suspended 29 priests since the release of the grand jury report. The accusations date back more than a decade. Bishop Galante said he thinks abuse is far less common these days.
“The overwhelming public revelations of this,” Galante said, “I’d be very surprised if there was anybody currently or recently being abused that would not come forward.”
Bishop Galante says there are no internal or external investigations now into accusations of abuse. And he says allegations that do come in date back to abuse that occurred decades ago.
“In New Jersey, the bishops have made an agreement with the attorney general’s office so that any allegation gets reported to the prosecuting attorney in each county,” said Galante.
Since he became Bishop of Camden in 2004, Galante said he has met with everyone who brings forward an allegation of abuse. He said the church and the Diocese are always striving to improve, but there is no way to make the church perfect.
“We do all that’s humanly possible. It can happen, nobody would deny that. But we try to do all that we can to be vigilant about that.”
The Diocese of Camden last removed a priest from ministry last March. Father Brendan Sullivan was removed from ministry for an accusation of abuse from 1981 at Assumption Parish in Camden County.
Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3