March 5, 2013
Diocese found compliant in national audit for abuse prevention
March 5, 2013, WORCESTER, MA -- Following an on-site audit of its records and procedures by an independent auditing firm, the Diocese of Worcester has been found compliant with the national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for the 10th consecutive year. The Charter was established in 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops during their meeting in Dallas which focused on the issue of addressing past incidents of child abuse by members of the Church and its prevention in the future.
The audit firm of Stonebridge Business Partners of Rochester, NY, which was contracted by the USCCB as a result of a national search process, conducted the nationwide audits. During its onsite audit in the Diocese of Worcester, it reviewed records for the period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. Auditors also interviewed both internal and external people involved in the issue, including local law enforcement, review board members, and social workers.
“I am grateful to the pastors, the parish safe environment coordinators and the thousands of staff and volunteers around our diocese who have been willing to assist in making our schools and parishes safe for children,” according to Bishop Robert McManus. “Our audits are helpful in seeing what works and give us an opportunity to learn what is happening nation-wide so that we can continue to improve our efforts to safeguard children. It is my fervent prayer that this annual audit process is underscoring our commitment to the safety of children and young people under our pastoral care and may serve as a model for other organizations in our society.”
Last year, in marking 10 years since the Charter was implemented both nationally and locally in nearly 200 dioceses and eparchies in the United States, the national Office for Child and Youth Protection issued a report which highlighted some of the areas of accomplishment. These reflect both national issues as well as local ones in the Diocese of Worcester. The national summary reported the following:
• Safe Environment training is taking place in 193 dioceses of the country. Over 2 million adults have been trained to recognize the behavior of offenders and what to do about it.
• Over 5 million children have been equipped with the skills to help them protect themselves from abuse.
• Background checks are conducted on Church personnel who have contact with children. Over 2 million volunteers and employees; 52,000 clerics; 6,205 candidates for ordination have had their backgrounds evaluated.
• All dioceses/eparchies have Codes of Conduct spelling out what is acceptable behavior. This serves to let people know what can and cannot be done as well as letting others know what behavior can be expected. It encourages the reporting of suspicious behavior.
• All dioceses/eparchies have Victim Assistance Coordinators, assuring victims that they will be heard. In 2011, $6,142,810 was spent nationwide on therapy for the victims of clergy sexual abuse.
• In addition at least $30,129,584 was spent nationwide for child protection efforts such as training programs and background checks.
• All dioceses/eparchies have Safe Environment Coordinators who assure the ongoing compliance to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
• Bishops are meeting with victims.
• There is a Zero Tolerance policy on abusers since 2002. When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry.
• Dioceses/eparchies require intensive background screening as well as psychological testing for those wishing to enter the seminary.
In a related announcement, the Diocese of Worcester has announced the names of three priests who have been laicized by the Holy See, after having been removed from ministry in the 1980’s and 1990’s for acts of sexual misconduct in the past.
# # #