Advocates For Abuse Survivors Question Objectivity Of Independent Review of Catholic Church Practices

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Photo credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Advocates for survivors of abuse related to the Catholic Church are hopeful but skeptical of an independent review that found the New York Archdiocese is actively working towards preventing abuse.

Any improvement in how the Catholic Church treats children is good, according to attorney Michael Pfau, partner at Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala, in partnership with The Marsh Firm.

“Of course, the baseline you start at, the Catholic Church has a dismal history," said Pfau, who represents dozens of people who claim to have been abused within the New York archdiocese.

He says there’s no way to know if the review was entirely objective.

“If it is Cardinal Dolan’s handpicked investigator,” Pfau added, “if he or his control the flow of information to them, we don’t know.”

The archdiocese will be facing hundreds of abuse survivors in court over the next couple of years and Pfau says that will be the real barometer, to see if things are changing in the church.

“Are they going to negotiate in good faith, or are they going to more aggressively to have cases dismissed and fight the abuse survivors,” Pfau asks.

On Monday, Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge appointed by the archdiocese to review its reponse to the sexual abuse crisis, determined, "The archdiocese follow strict protocols in every one of the cases that comes to it."

Jones said the archdiocese doesn't have anyone in ministry today against whom there's a substantiated complaint of abuse of a minor. She also said the archdiocese is working hard at prevention, especially with the safe environment training.

Though she did recommend the archdiocese upgrade their record systems from paper to electronic for the work ahead.