Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen
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Diocese of Metuchen
|Territory||Counties of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren, New Jersey|
|Ecclesiastical province||Metropolitan Province of Newark|
|Area||3,688 km2 (1,424 sq mi)|
- Catholics (including non-members)
|(as of 2013)|
|Sui iuris church||Latin Church|
|Established||November 19, 1981, incorporated December 31, 1981|
|Cathedral||Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral|
|Bishop||James F. Checchio|
|Metropolitan Archbishop||Joseph Tobin|
|Bishops emeritus||Paul Gregory Bootkoski|
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen (Latin: Dioecesis Metuchenis) is a Roman Catholic diocese in New Jersey, centered in the borough of Metuchen. It was erected on November 19, 1981, from the territory of the Diocese of Trenton. The diocese encompasses the New Jersey counties of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren. The Bishop of Metuchen presides from the Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Metuchen.
The diocese counts more than 600,000 Catholics within its purview, distributed across more than one hundred parishes, serviced by 160 priests residing in the diocese, with 100 non-resident priests and 150 deacons assisting. Six hundred religious serve the schools and various organizations throughout the diocese.
Pope John Paul II erected the Diocese of Metuchen with territory taken from the Diocese of Trenton on 19 November 1981, designating St. Francis of Assisi Church in Metuchen as its cathedral and making it a suffragan of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Newark.
This section needs expansion with: additional history for the diocese from 1981–present. You can help by adding to it. (March 2015)
On September 26, 2018, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced an investigation of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Metuchen and three other dioceses American dioceses in which Theodore McCarrick, formerly a cardinal and the first bishop of the diocese, had served.
On February 13, 2019, all of the Catholic Dioceses based in New Jersey released the names of clergy who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children since 1940. Of the 188 listed, 11 were based in the Diocese of Metuchen. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province to which the Diocese of Metuchen belongs, also acknowledged that the alleged acts of abuse committed by the clergy in the list had been reported to law enforcement agencies.
In December 2019, a new law allowing for more victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits took effect. As a result, McCarrick and convicted priest Romano Ferrero were named in separate lawsuits filed against the Diocese of Metuchen. Ferraro was laicized by the Vatican and is serving a life sentence in prison. In his lawsuit, James Grien, one of McCarrick's alleged New York victims, accused the Diocese of Metuchen of committing gross negligence by allowing McCarrick, who Grien claimed was a friend of his family, to sexually abuse him after he moved to the area as an adult.
By 2020, the names of 18 accused clergy who served in the Diocese of Metuchen had become public. On February 9, 2020, it was reported that all five Catholic dioceses across the state of New Jersey, which includes the Diocese of Metuchen, had paid over $11 million to compensate 105 claims of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy. Of these 105 claims, 98 were compensated through settlements. The payments did not involve 459 additional cases of sexual abuse in these dioceses which remained unresolved. The same month, it became public that the Diocese of Metuchen had worked with the Archdiocese of Newark and Diocese of Trenton in a scheme which involved secretly paying victims of McCarrick since 2005.
On July 23, 2020, it was revealed that, in a new lawsuit which had been against the Diocese of Metuchen, Archdiocese of Newark and Catholic schools, an alleged victim claimed that McCarrick owned a beach house which had served as common place that priests and others under the control of McCarrick engaged in “open and obvious criminal sexual conduct” that was kept cloaked by the church. Though it did claim whether or not McCarrick asked the other priests to bring boys to the beach house, the lawsuit did also that allege that some of his priests served as “procurers” who agreed to bring victims to McCarrick when he was Bishop of Metuchen. The alleged victim, who attended a Catholic school belonging to the Archdiocese of Newark, maintained that McCarrick abused him with the assistance of other priests beginning in 1982 when he was 14. The lawsuit stated that boys were assigned different rooms in the house and paired with adult clergymen. The lawsuit also named three other priests of the Diocese of Metuchen as sexual abusers.
On September 8, 2020, it was revealed that a new lawsuit against McCarrick alleged he had a second beach house which he also used as a sex ring. At some point, McCarrick sold the beach house to the Diocese of Metuchen. However, the beach house was eventually sold to the Archdiocese of Newark in 1997. This came after the Archdiocese, where McCarrick was at this point serving as Archbishop, purchased the other beach house from the Diocese of Metuchen. The Archdiocese would sell this beach house just four months after purchase of the other beach house.
On September 9, 2020, it was revealed that two new lawsuits for sexual abuse against the Diocese of Metuchen named two priests who the Diocese of Metuchen had not included in the previous list as sex abusers. On December 1, 2020, it was revealed that the Diocese of Metuchen was among more than 230 sex abuse lawsuits filed within a period of one year against New Jersey Catholic Dioceses.
Bishops of Metuchen
- Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1981-1986), appointed Archbishop of Newark and later Archbishop of Washington (Cardinal 2001–2018), resigned from the College of Cardinals in 2018, dismissed from the clerical state in 2019
- Edward Thomas Hughes (1986-1997)
- Vincent DePaul Breen (1997-2002)
- John Mortimer Fourette Smith (Apostolic Administrator 2001–2002)
- Paul Gregory Bootkoski (2002-2016)
- James Francis Checchio (2016–present)
Primary and secondary schools
- High schools
- St. Thomas Aquinas High School (New Jersey), Edison (formerly Bishop Ahr)
- Immaculata High School, Somerville
- Mount St. Mary Academy, Watchung
- St. Joseph High School, Metuchen (independent)
- Closed high schools
- St. Pius X High School, Piscataway (closed 1990)
- St. Peter the Apostle High School, New Brunswick (closed 2007)
- Cardinal McCarrick High School, South Amboy (closed 2015)
A member of the Saint Peter's Healthcare System
Coat of Arms
The blazon of the coat of arms, shown in the right sidebar at the top of this article, is Quarterly, Or and Argent, in dexter chief a tongue of fire Gules; in sinister base the letter "M" Azure, crowned Argent; overall a cross Moline Azure. The cross is taken from the coat arms of the See of Trenton from which the diocese was formed. The tongue of fire refers both to "metachen," Lenni Lenape for firewood, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. The crowned "M" refers to the queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron of the diocesan patron, and also appears on the arms of Theodore McCarrick, the first bishop of the diocese, and Pope John Paul II, the pope who erected it. Its four quarters represent the four counties spanned by the diocese.
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- "Bishops to investigate 4 dioceses after Pope nixes Vatican McCarrick probe". Crux Now.
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- Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen Official Site
- Synodal home page
- New Jersey Provincial Directory website