The board had to solve the problem of state privacy laws before implementing the enhanced-compliance audit. As an example, this meant redacting victims' names before providing a document.
The board worked with auditors and attorneys to arrive at solutions that would allow access to redacted documents without violating privacy laws.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was helpful in advocating for finding a solution.
In 2011, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was certified to be in compliance with the Dallas Charter, but, during the same year, a grand jury report charged that the archdiocese had allowed priests who were credibly accused to remain in ministry.
The press has covered the report and the subsequent trial, so I will not comment on an individual case, but the auditors will be looking to make sure that all allegations are brought before the diocesan review board for their recommendations to the bishop.
How do we get children safer? We know that we have a societal problem of child abuse. It will be present in every institution of society, and we need to continue to evaluate our efforts on this issue.
Do we have a perfect system yet? No, but the bishops and the National Review Board are continually working to improve the process.
Before the 2011 grand jury report in Philadelphia, some accused priests had already been removed, evaluated and then returned to ministry - only to be removed a second time after the report was released.
One problem in Philadelphia was that other people were making a judgment about whether an allegation was a boundary violation or an abuse issue - without bringing the report to the lay review board. If you don't give the review board every allegation, they are not being properly used.
During the 2012 meeting in Rome of the English-speaking Anglophone conference, it was made clear that every credible allegation should be reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And Pope Francis has stated his concern about the child-abuse crisis in the Church.
A case in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., involved possession of child pornography by a priest. Pornography addiction is pervasive, and it is linked to the sexual abuse of minors. Does safe-environment training include education about the dangers of pornography?
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Child pornography has been listed as a violation under the charter. The board is currently addressing this issue.
Boundary violations, as opposed to direct sexual abuse, remain a controversial issue, with some critics asserting that priests should not be removed for this offense. Yet some boundary violations have been linked to credible allegations of abuse.
That is why every diocese is required to have and promulgate their code of conduct or "standards of behavior." The issue of boundary violations is best dealt with through education and making sure that if warnings are not followed there will be consequences.
To make a larger point: Dioceses have their policies and codes of conduct; we also, hopefully, are able to rely on common sense. One example would be a concern about priests assigned to isolated rural areas with no support and how that can be addressed. Another is the local bishop meeting with major superiors of orders operating within the diocese. Now, with 10 years of experience, there is an increase of awareness for everyone involved, including the bishops.
While the majority of clergy sex-abuse victims are post-pubescent boys, the researchers who completed the second John Jay Report concluded that same-sex attraction was not a significant factor in the crisis. Subsequently, some Church leaders challenged that assessment.
The majority of victims are still post-pubescent males.