Diocese May Amend Mission Statement to Address Child Sex-Abuse

Newsday [Piscataway NJ]
June 15, 2003

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Prompted by sex abuse scandals tainting the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Metuchen may insert into its mission statement language on creating a safe environment for children.

Hundreds of parish representatives attending a weekend Pastoral Council weighed in on the proposed addition, which reads, "To devote the resources and personnel necessary to create a safe environment for the children and youth within our diocesan community."

"The new goal is the result of the horrific and demoralizing impact sexual abuse by clergy has had on our church," the Rev. John B. Szymanski said.

Religious leaders and others representing 108 parishes met at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center in Piscataway in part to review the diocese's 20-year-old mission statement, the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick reported for Sunday.

The diocese serves a half-million people in four counties _ Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren.

The Most Rev. Paul G. Bootkoski, who became bishop of the diocese last year, spoke of the child sex-abuse scandal and what has been done within the Metuchen Diocese to address the issue.

"Although our diocese was less affected by the sexual-abuse scandal than most, it was so very disheartening to think that a single child had been harmed by someone they trusted," Bootkoski said.

Bootkoski praised the diocese's "Protecting God's Children," program, which provides information about how to identify and prevent child sex-abuse.

Susan M. Lang, representing Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in South Amboy, said making the goal part of the mission statement demonstrates the diocese's commitment to ensuring child safety.

But Donald Readlinger of Immaculate Conception parish in Somerville, said, "It seems to say we need to do repair work where we didn't feel there was a need."

Representatives have until June 27 to vote.


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