Opinion: Why a Maine Diocese Social Worker’s Censure Matters

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Firm News

Carolyn Bloom is probably a very nice person. She’s a social worker and in our experience, most social workers are very nice. 

As a social worker, she’s also very likely helped many people. In our experience, most social workers do, in fact, help many people.

But nice people in ‘helping’ jobs can do awful, hurtful things. Bloom certainly has. She’s been publicly exposed for doing them. She’s also been held responsible for them, as she should be.

But in this recent disturbing situation in Maine, Bloom is one of two wrongdoers.

Let us bring you up to speed

Bloom gets paid by the Maine Catholic diocese to “coordinate counseling and treatment for those who say they were sexually abused by clergy as children.”

Many dioceses hire someone – clergy or lay person – for this role. They have to, at least according to the national abuse policy adopted by bishops in 2002, when they were under massive fire for ignoring or hiding child sex crimes for decades in the wake of the Boston Globe’s groundbreaking ‘Spotlight’ investigative series.

The trouble is that, as the Bible says, you can’t serve two masters.

Often, a diocese’s ‘victims assistance coordinator’ can either help the diocese OR help the victims. It’s very hard to do both, particularly when the survivor has a potential legal case. Then it’s impossible.

To use another cliché, the one who pays the piper, calls the tune.

In other words, when the interests of church officials conflict with the interests of survivors, often people like Bloom chose to advance the interests of church officials, at least in part because those officials sign their paychecks.

So we at Horowitz Law are grateful to clergy abuse survivor Melissa Kearns who brought Bloom’s bad behavior to light. We’re also proud that we were able to play a role in helping her do this.

(For the details of Bloom’s misconduct, click here: https://www.bishop-accountability.org/2023/05/counselor-for-maine-diocese-disciplined-for-ethics-violations/)

Kearns’ courage led to the State licensing board’s decision to discipline Bloom. We’re confident that this will deter other church employees (including those who are ordained and those who are not) from deceiving and re-traumatizing other victims in the future.

And we hope that this sanction will bring at least a small measure of comfort and validation to other abuse survivors who shared their pain with paid Catholic employees, only to be deceived and hurt again.

Maine Bishop Robert Deeley issued a statement about this matter. See if you can immediately identify his glaring omission: 

“With the controls we have put in place and continuing vigilance, we can gratefully say that our diocese’s procedures have created a safer Church. What has been done has, no doubt, been helpful in assuring that the horrible pain experienced by many in the Church decades ago does not occur again. We continually remind ourselves of the gravity of the harm and the importance of our continual efforts to maintain the Church as a safe environment for any who seek a place to draw nearer to God.”

This self-serving pablum completely ignores the fundamental issue here: that a paid church employee violated her profession’s code of ethics and misled a vulnerable survivor who had already been severely hurt by an abusive clergyman, Rev. Anthony Cipolle. And, despite her admissions of wrongdoing, the Diocese has doubled-down on Carolyn Bloom – she will keep her job as one of the Diocese’s point people addressing allegations of sexual abuse in Maine’s only Catholic diocese. 

After the Portland Press Herald reported on Bloom’s sanctioning, the support and advocacy group SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) issued a media statement urging Bishop Deeley “to reconsider keeping Bloom on the payroll” and “do outreach to all the victims who have contacted the Diocese during Bloom’s tenure, begging anyone who may have been similarly harmed to come forward.” 

SNAP also echoed Melissa’s advice to survivors: report first to a truly independent third party, such as law enforcement or support groups like ours.


Finally, Bloom has worked for the diocese for 20 years. It’s disturbing to think of how many more Melissa Kearns have been betrayed and wounded because of church staffers like Bloom. We at Horowitz Law hope that every one of these victims will summon the strength to come forward and help expose and prevent similar offenses in the future.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Portland in Maine. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maine, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Portland now have legal options, but filing deadlines may apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Maine and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 844-291-8935 to discuss your options today.