In their annual report on nationwide measures for the protection of minors, the U.S. bishops found extensive diocesan cooperation with recommended standards.
“When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, we made a pledge to heal and a promise to protect. These promises remain essential priorities for our Church,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the bishops’ conference.
“We remain ever vigilant in the protection of children and the outreach to those most harmed by sexual abuse. The Church cannot become complacent with what has been accomplished. We look for new ways of addressing the issue and showing others a model of protection.”
In 2002, in response to the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy dating back decades, the U.S. bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The charter made voluntary recommendations to bishops, including an audit to ensure compliance.
The report, carried out by the bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board, found that 189 dioceses and eparchies were compliant with the Charter and one diocese was partially compliant specifically with Articles 12 and 13, which require proof that training programs are in place and that background checks are conducted on employees, clergy and volunteers.
The one diocese not fully compliant is the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., though according to the report, the diocese plans to fully participate in the audit next year.
The Lincoln diocese participated in the first audit in 2003, but then-Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz declined to participate again. The diocese said that it had questions about the practices and methodology of the audit process of the time, and that it had internal policies ensuring background checks, abuse prevention training and reporting requirements.
Lincoln’s participation next year will mean all U.S. dioceses will be taking part in the audit. Furthermore, all but one of the non-compliant eparchies have also requested to be added to the schedule for the 2016 audit.
“This is a hopeful sign that we will indeed attain the goal of 100% participation in the audit, which will serve to enhance the credibility of the bishops, but more importantly, achieve the important goal of protecting our children,” the report states.
“It is imperative that every diocese/eparchy participate in the audit if the faithful are to have confidence that the bishops are indeed committed to not only rectifying the terrible crime and sin of sexual abuse of children perpetrated in the past, but doing everything in their means possible to prevent such abuse from happening again.”
The information in the report was gathered between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. The report on the response of the Catholic Church in the United States to clergy sexual abuse includes an annual survey conducted by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and an annual audit to numerous dioceses and eparchies.
Between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, 26 allegations against clergy received were from current minors, seven of which were substantiated, according to the report. All allegations were reported to local civil authorities.
Of the 838 people who reported past abuse as minors, 386 accepted diocesan outreach and healing. Continued support was provided to 1,646 victims/survivors. All dioceses and eparchies have offices and personnel whose primary role is to assist victim/survivors, treating them with respect and offering them pastoral care.