ST. ALBANS – Dozens of local Catholics came to the St. Mary’s Parish Hall Thursday night to meet with Bishop Christopher Coyne to discuss everything from abuse allegations to declining church numbers.
The meeting was the first in a series throughout the state, prompted by physical and sexual abuse allegations recently surfacing this past summer surrounding the former Burlington orphanage, St. Joseph’s Orphanage, which closed in 1974.
According to Coyne, the Catholic Diocese is currently doing everything it can to cooperate with police.
“We’re not doing our own investigation on this at all. We’ve turned everything over to law enforcement because we don’t want to be seen as manipulating or getting in the way,” Coyne said.
The diocese has, however, formed its own lay committee consisting of three men and three women who are investigating 52 files of former or deceased priests in the state who have been accused of sexually abusing children. According to Coyne, none of these priests are currently practicing ministry. Coyne also pointed out that all of these alleged abuse cases stem from before 2002. In the past 17 years, there have been no new allegations.
Coyne said the lay committee plans to release the names of any priests on that list who they determine have a credible and substantial claim against them, though he expects the process could take at least another month.
“That’s mainly because they are being so careful through these files,” Coyne said.
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