.- At their spring meeting yesterday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 207-14 in favor of a national on-site audit of all dioceses and eparchies, which will form the basis of the second annual report on the implementation of the Charter for Child and Youth Protection. This audit is to be completed by Dec. 31.
The charter, which the bishops had approved in June 2002, requires that the Office of Child and Youth Protection compile the annual report and help regions develop “appropriate mechanisms to audit adherence” to the charter’s policies.
The bishops also directed the Office of Child and Youth Protection to oversee, in consultation with the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, annual national audits until the next review of the charter. The review process is to begin shortly.
In addition, the bishops directed the National Review Board to prepare for the study of the “causes and context” of the recent crisis.
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, chairman of the ad hoc committee, said the bishops’ actions were “a clear indication of [their] commitment to the charter and to the protection of children and young people, which is the purpose for which we adopted it just over two years ago.”
Justice Anne Burke, interim chair of the National Review Board, said the board is pleased with the bishops’ decision to move forward with the audits.
This work will “continue to promote strong action to protect children and young people in the Church,” she said.
“The message is clear: Children will be safe from harm in the Catholic Church and the bishops and lay people will work on this together,” she said.