October 27, 2005

Church loses volunteers to policy aimed at protecting kids


Thursday, October 27, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff
Charlie Hughes is a volunteer's volunteer, collecting old cell phones for battered women, running clothing drives and gathering old bicycles for reuse around the world.

For more than two decades, the 74-year-old West Amwell man gave his time to St. John's Roman Catholic Church in Lambertville, most recently for the parish's Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which helps the poor.

But a dispute over a church program designed to prevent abuse of children has angered Hughes and dozens of other volunteers, largely depleting the society's membership.

At least 40 volunteers, lectors and eucharistic ministers have been dismissed or eliminated from rosters since last year because of their refusal to fully participate in the "Protecting God's Children" program, said Marlene Di Via, the society's former secretary and one of those dismissed.

The dispute stems from Monsignor Leon Kasprzyk's interpretation of a Metuchen diocese policy, borne from the clergy sex abuse scandal, that church workers with "direct contact with minors" take part in the program.

Posted by kshaw at October 27, 2005 08:40 PM