Diocese of Camden

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Coat of Arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden, New Jersey

The Catholic Diocese of Camden was established in 1937 and covers the six southern counties of the state.  Its territory comes from the Diocese of Trenton. 

In 2008, former Bishop Joseph Galante announced the closure of half of the diocese’s parishes as a cost cutting measure.  The current Bishop is Dennis Sullivan who has served as the Bishop of Camden since 2013.

The Diocese of Camden identified 56 accused clergy members as having credible accusations of sexual abuse made against them.  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal formed a task force last fall aimed at investigating the state’s dioceses and their handling of sexual abuse, including the Diocese of Camden.

One of the Camden priests whose name appears on the list has since opened a practice as a family counselor after being removed from ministry in 2000.  Edward Igle, who has been licensed as a therapist since the 1980s, runs a South Jersey practice, counseling families and children, and teaches related classes through a Philadelphia-based center, including on how to identify and clinically treat victims of sex abuse.

In 2011, church officials told New Jersey regulators about two men who claimed that Igle abused them in the 1970s. The diocese deemed both claims credible, a spokesman said, but too late under the statute of limitations to lead to prosecution.  The state has repeatedly renewed Igle’s licenses.

Igle, now 68 years old, continues to deny the allegations.  His case underscores questions that have loomed since the Catholic sex-abuse scandal ballooned more than a decade ago: Where have the accused priests gone? And who bears the responsibility, if any, of monitoring them?

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “In the early 2000s, the Camden Diocese found itself entrenched in the sex-abuse scandal. Sued multiple times over allegations involving dozens of priests, it paid out several million dollars in settlements.

In 2011, a man writing in a Richmond, Va., Catholic newspaper identified himself as one of the recipients. In his account in the Catholic Virginian, the man, who identified himself only as “George,” detailed abuse he said he had suffered decades earlier at the hands of a priest at St. John Vianney parish in Deptford.

‘I trusted this man with my life, and he abused his priesthood,” the alleged victim wrote. “That man ruined my life.’

He also wrote that the Camden Diocese had paid him a settlement, which he did not disclose.

The article did not name the accused priest. But Feuerherd, then the diocesan spokesman, confirmed it was Igle. Igle was ordained in 1974 and worked during that decade in South Jersey parishes. He later served in other roles for the diocese, including as clinical director for Catholic Charities’ counseling program.

George’s claim was the second against him.

In the first, in 1994, a West Berlin man sued Igle, alleging the priest abused and raped him over several years in the 1970s, starting when he was 14.

That man first detailed his claim in a 2005 interview with The Inquirer. He has since died.

The suit was settled in 2000 for $7,500, and included a stipulation that Igle take a two-year leave of absence from the diocese, court documents show. Igle later applied to return, a lawyer for the church said, but was denied.

In the interview, Igle said the leave was “for personal reasons.” He declined to elaborate.

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The Camden Diocesan Center in downtown Camden, New Jersey houses the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Camden and a bank.

In 2002 – two years after Igle’s removal – the diocese reported the West Berlin man’s allegation to a Camden County prosecutor, as required by guidelines issued by U.S. bishops that year. No charges ensued.

Nine years later, George’s allegation became public.

In spite of the allegations and the lawsuits, Igle remains a licensed therapist in the state of New Jersey.

In another case involving a Camden priest, Fr. John D. Bohrer abruptly resigned his pastorate at St. Teresa of Calcutta in Collingswood as the diocese was preparing to release its list of credibly accused priests.  He revealed that he had asked to be removed from ministry due to an accusation of sexual abuse — one that a diocesan review board deemed to be credible more than 15 years ago.

But questions remained as to how Bohrer, 74, had retained his post for years after his accusers’ claims were substantiated in a diocese that has a zero-tolerance policy for clergy misconduct.

Diocesan spokesperson Michael Walsh said Tuesday that Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, who took the helm of the Camden Diocese in 2013, was unaware until recently of the details of the claims against Bohrer, which first emerged in 2002 and prompted his removal at the time. They were rediscovered last year when the diocese began preparing its list of credibly accused priests, Walsh said.

“This accusation came to light during an independent review of personnel files,” Walsh said. “In keeping with … the diocese’s own zero-tolerance policy, Father Bohrer resigned his position and was removed from ministry.”

According to the Inquirer, “The allegation against him dates to 2002, the height of the original U.S. clergy sex-abuse crisis. That year, a 35-year-old man informed the diocese that Bohrer had abused him in the mid-1980s while the priest was assigned to St. Pius X in Cherry Hill.

Walsh, in a statement, said that church leaders at the time suspended Bohrer immediately, referred the claim against him to law enforcement, and conducted their own investigation. The diocese’s civilian review board determined the accuser’s claim to be credible and its findings were submitted to the Vatican.

Officials in Rome, however, ultimately concluded that the claim did not warrant Bohrer’s permanent removal from the priesthood — the most severe punishment the Vatican can issue, and one handed down in only a quarter of cases involving accused priests, according to Vatican data from 2004 to 2014.

The same year Bohrer was accused, Catholic bishops across the United States had vowed to never again allow any credibly accused priest return to active ministry.

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Map of the Catholic Diocese of Camden

And yet, then-Camden Bishop Joseph Galante, a chief proponent of that policy, lifted Bohrer’s suspension after the Vatican’s ruling and assigned him to new posts — first as a nursing-home chaplain in 2008 and then, in 2010, as vicar to Holy Saviour parish in Haddon Township.

The next year, Bohrer was named administrator of St. Teresa of Calcutta, a parish formed after the merger of Holy Saviour with the neighboring St. John’s. A parochial school associated with the parish, Good Shepherd Regional, enrolls about 200 students.

The diocese that no accusations were lodged against Bohrer after his return to ministry.

Asked again to explain Galante’s decision to put Bohrer back in charge of a parish, Walsh said: “I don’t know the answer to that question. There are no members of [Galante’s] administration remaining in the current administration of the diocese.”

These two accounts of priests credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors leads one to wonder how thorough and forthright have officials of the Catholic Diocese of Camden been concerning the reporting of priests who sexually abuse children?