Celebrating the 11:30 a.m. Mass, he preached of the need to open one’s heart to Jesus in these days before Christmas. “He understands we are not perfect,” he said, “but he will not give up on us.”
But Father Timone, by the Catholic Church’s own apparent standards, should not be presiding at the altar. Two settlements were paid by the Archdiocese of New York for substantiated allegations that Father Timone had sexually abused teenage boys he was counseling, one of whom committed suicide after what his widow said was decades of struggling with what had happened to him.
As the clergy abuse scandal continues to roil the Catholic Church, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, has been under tremendous pressure to prove he has brought accountability to how his diocese, the second-largest in the country, handles the issue of child sexual abuse.
But the archdiocese is essentially allowing Father Timone to continue serving as a priest because of a bureaucratic technicality — a position that seems to fly in the face of the cardinal’s pledge to aggressively handle sexual abuse accusations.
The archdiocese maintains that Father Timone has been allowed to remain because the church itself did not rule on his fitness; that judgment was made by a separate, church-sponsored panel, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. The settlements were paid in 2017 through that program, which Cardinal Dolan established the previous year to provide closure and a measure of justice to victims of sexual abuse by priests.
The archdiocese has its own internal process for substantiating abuse claims. And though it initially suspended Father Timone and investigated an allegation lodged against him in 2002, its review board did not substantiate the accusation at the time, the spokesman for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said last week.