.- The more than 300-pages long Audit on the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People have been made avialable to public by the United States Bishops’ Conference (USCCB.)
The full document, including individual reports on the compliance of each diocese, as well as the commendations or instructions or recommendations, is now available on the USCCB Web site at: http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/audit2003/report.htm
The independent compliance audit included 191 of the 195 dioceses and eparchies. Three could not be audited due to scheduling or legal issues. An eparchy, created in mid-2002, was not included in the current audit.
The Boston-based Gavin Group, headed by William Gavin, a former FBI official, conducted the audit. The 54 auditors, most of them former FBI agents, held interviews in each diocese, mostly in teams of two, between June and November 2003.
“The audit process found all dioceses and eparchies to be compliant with some or all of the articles of the charter,” says the report. Of those audited, “171 (90 percent) of the dioceses and eparchies are compliant with all provisions of the charter.”
Auditors assessed how well each diocese had implemented the articles present in the four sections of the charter on promoting healing and reconciliation; guaranteeing effective response to allegations of abuse of a minor; ensuring accountability of procedures, and; protecting the faithful in the future.Findings
Auditors found that most dioceses and eparchies conduct background checks on clergy and staff, as well as screening candidates for the priesthood. Most also had established review boards and providing various types of assistance to sexual-abuse victims.
Of the 191 audited dioceses, 129 dioceses (68 percent) received commendations for innovative procedures and transparency about the problem of sexual abuse.
However, 131 instructions were issued to 57 dioceses (30 percent). An instruction was issued when a particular article of the charter had not yet been implemented. Auditors specified a date by which action was to be taken to correct the situation.
The most common instructions dealt with the establishment of codes of conduct, the development of safe-environment programs, and the institution of background checks. By the end of the audit, about 62 percent of these instructions were addressed.
There were also 297 recommendations issued to 125 dioceses (65 percent), when an article was not implemented completely or when its implementation could be improved. The most common recommendations were regarding pastoral outreach, review boards, safe environments, and background checks. By the end of the audit, 258 of these recommendations were addressed.
Thirty-four of the audited dioceses (18 percent) had unaddressed instructions and/or recommendations by the end of the audit.
“A significant amount of progress has been made by the Catholic bishops and eparchs, as measured by the compliance audit process,” reported the Gavin Group.
“Some dioceses and eparchies have exceeded expectations by fully implementing the charter and establishing themselves as role models for other dioceses and eparchies,” says the report. “For a variety of reasons, such as limited resources, personnel shortages, and lack of direction and training, some dioceses and eparchies will have to take additional actions to be fully compliant with the entire charter.
“Neither this audit process nor the full and complete implementation of the charter will provide a total guarantee that there will never be another case of child or youth sexual abuse committed by a member of the Catholic clergy,” says the report. “However, the continuous efforts of bishops, eparchs, clergy, and the laity to address this problem will foster a greater degree of confidence that children and young people will be safe and secure in Catholic Church environments”.Recommendations for dealing with sexual abuse
Auditors also made 52 recommendations on how the Catholic Church might better address the problem of sexual abuse of minors. While the audit was designed to measure the implementation of the charter at the diocesan level, auditors recommended that the charter be implemented at the parish level as well.
“This is particularly important because children and young people are most involved in church activities at the parish level,” says the report.
Among their many recommendations, auditors said each bishop should meet with each person who has made an allegation of sexual abuse and encourage victims to come forward through periodic public announcements.
Auditors also recommended that each diocese provide to the Office of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board, on an annual basis, the number of allegations of sexual abuse reported during that year and the status of these cases.