By Brendan O'Brien
(Reuters) - Five Roman Catholic dioceses in New Jersey on Wednesday released the names of 188 clergy members who have been accused of sexually abusing children dating back decades, including a former cardinal facing defrocking by the Vatican.
The disclosure was the result of an internal investigation of archdiocese records and all of the priests and deacons listed have previously been reported to law enforcement and none remain in the ministry, Newark Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Tobin said in a statement.
"It is our sincerest hope that this disclosure will help bring healing to those whose lives have been so deeply violated," he said, noting some of the abuse dates back to 1940.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal formed a task force in September to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy in his state, along with any efforts to cover up such abuse.
"I am pleased to see that our task force’s grand jury investigation has prompted the dioceses to finally take some measures to hold predator priests accountable," Grewal said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Our investigation remains ongoing," he said, adding, "We anticipate taking criminal action wherever appropriate." Grewal could not be reached for further comment.
"SOLACE TO SURVIVORS"
The Newark Archdiocese released the names of 63 clergy members, 33 who are deceased and 33 who are accused of having multiple victims. Some of the deceased are among those accused of having multiple victims.
The Paterson Diocese had 28 clerics on its list, the Camden Diocese listed 57 clerics, the Trenton Diocese had 30 and the Metuchen Diocese listed 11 clergy. One priest on the Newark list also appeared on the Paterson list.
"We hope that seeing these names in print will bring solace to survivors and let victims who may still be suffering in silence find the strength to come forward," the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement.
Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who rose to be a power broker in the American Church as archbishop of Washington, D.C., from 2001 to 2006, was among the clergy members on the Newark list.
He has previously responded publicly to one of the allegations, saying he has "absolutely no recollection" of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago. He has not responded publicly to separate allegations by several priests and ex-priests.
McCarrick resigned last year and is living in seclusion in a remote friary in Kansas. He will likely be dismissed from the priesthood, which would make him the highest profile Roman Catholic figure to be defrocked in modern times, according to Vatican sources.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Bill Tarrantand Leslie Adler)