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Statement of the Diocese of Metuchen on the removal of Mark Dolak from the priesthood

April 19, 2019

Mark Dolak, identified on the list of names of credibly accused clergy released by the Diocese of Metuchen, had his priestly faculties removed by the Diocese of Metuchen over twenty years ago and has not been able to function as a priest since then. He has now been permanently removed from the priesthood by the Holy Father via the laicization process. When a priest is laicized, he is returned to the status of a lay person.  

The Diocese of Metuchen has taken many steps to create safe environments for children to ensure that such painful events will never be repeated. Since 2002, the diocese has required background checks, child protection training for all who work or volunteer with children and has implemented zero-tolerance policies. No cleric who has had a credible accusation of child sexual abuse is in ministry. The diocese, as a matter of a strictly adhered to policy, reports every accusation to the appropriate County prosecutor’s office, regardless of when or how long ago the abuse is alleged to have happened and whether or not the accused is living or deceased. 

The Diocese also relies on a Review Board, which consists of nine members:  three medical professionals, three members of the clergy, two former judges and one survivor of clerical sexual abuse. The Board reviews every accusation as soon as it is received unless there is an active criminal investigation. Upon the completion of every criminal investigation, should the civil authorities deem the matter not to be criminal or barred by the Statute of Limitations, then the Board will conduct its own investigation and analysis to determine the credibility of the allegations. The Board will then make its findings known to the Diocese and make recommendations. The Bishop will then take all necessary and appropriate action.

In addition, to facilitate healing and transparency, the Diocese of Metuchen published a list of all diocesan priests with credible accusations on its website. Combined, these actions seem to be achieving the desired results, as it has been decades since the diocese has had a child abused in one of its churches.

Shortly before the publication of the names of credibly accused clergy, the five Catholic dioceses in New Jersey commissioned an Independent Victim Compensation Program, available for survivors who were sexually abused by clergy as minors. The program is being independently administered by two noted victims’ compensation experts and aims to provide victims with an alternative to litigation and a speedy and transparent process to resolve their claims. All compensation paid pursuant to the program will come from insurance and insurance reserves. Since its founding 38 years ago, the diocese has provided $1.5 million of compensation to survivors regardless of whether they fell within the civil statute of limitations or not.

Anyone who has been harmed in any way, by any clergy in the Church, is encouraged to reach out to local law enforcement and the Diocesan Response Officer at (908) 930-4558 to report an offense or arrange for counseling assistance.

RELATED: Read the statement from Bishop James F. Checchio on the removal of Mark Dolak from the priesthood

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