She has watched as diocese after diocese has identified Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children. She saw the victims who, after confronting decades of church silence, could edge toward a sense of closure as bishops apologised and publicly named clergy members who abused them.

Yet for Janet Cleary Klinger, the silence has continued.

She said she had been abused as a teenager by a priest from her family's parish in the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which sprawls over the suburbs of Long Island.

But the Rockville Centre Diocese — one of the largest in the country with an