Posts Tagged Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

Annual audit of church abuse allegations shows work still needed / Catholic News Service

“Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, said the audits show that even with all of the work being done to fulfill the requirements of the bishops’ charter, developed in 2002, allegations involving current minors have still occurred.”

The 14th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church’s ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ shows that church leaders have taken steps to help many find healing as victims of clergy sexual abuse, but there is still work to be done.

“Introductory remarks in the 2017 report urge church leaders not to assume that ‘sexual abuse of minors by the clergy is a thing of the past and a distant memory. Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must rededicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance,’ wrote Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, which oversees the audits …

“Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, said the audits show that even with all of the work being done to fulfill the requirements of the bishops’ charter, developed in 2002, allegations involving current minors have still occurred.”

By Carol Zimmerman, Catholic News Service — Read More …

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Child Victims Act sunsets within week of bishops’ abuse report / Voice of the Faithful

BOSTON, Mass., May 25, 2016 – Recent heightened public scrutiny of Catholic clergy sexual abuse has reinforced the urgency for the Church to address the scandal adequately, according to abuse victims’ advocate and Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful.

Within only a week, the “window” in the Minnesota Child Victims act expired, even as the U.S. Catholic bishops made their annual abuse report.

On May 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the three-year window created by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act for reporting old claims of child sex abuse would expire May 25. During the three-year period, more than 500 claims were made against Minnesota Catholic clergy, according to the Star Tribune, which said, “In the three years since the law’s passage, the local church has witnessed an archbishop’s resignation, two bankruptcies and the public naming of more than 100 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.”

The same day, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for abuse victims were accusing the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese of hiding more than $1 billion in assets “to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.”

On May 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts. The report showed a sharp increase in the number of new claims primarily from adults reporting past abuse. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of USCCB’s National Review Board, said the audit showed progress in creating safe environments for children but that very progress threatens complacency in implementing the charter’s guidelines.

As VOTF has pointed out before, the audit relies on self-reporting to assess compliance with those guidelines with little or no verification of the reported data.

Voice of the Faithful believes this focus on the scandal reinforces calls to action VOTF has made many times, including:

  1. everyone in the Church, lay and clergy alike, must be constantly vigilant in order to prevent abuse and its coverup and to report suspected cases promptly to civil authorities;
  2. the Church must stop blocking state statutes of limitation reforms that allow sufficient time for abused children to report the crimes;
  3. the Church must hold accountable not only the abusers, but also those who fail to report the crimes;
  4. the Church must provide abuse survivors and all those harmed by the scandal with resources necessary for healing.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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U.S. Catholic bishops release annual abuse report

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People this past Friday, May 20, 2016. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts:

Audit of U.S. Catholic church shows sharp spike in sex abuse reports

By Scott Malone, Reuters

“Annual audit of reports of sexual abuse by members of the U.S. Roman Catholic clergy released on Friday (May 20) showed sharp increases in the number of new claims and in the value of settlements to victims.”

Annual report shows continued toll of clergy sex abuse crisis

By Matt Rocheleau, The Boston Globe

“The Catholic church paid $153 million in the United States last year to settle lawsuits, and fielded hundreds of new accusations, as fallout continued form the clergy sex abuse scandal exposed in the early 2000s, a new report from church leaders says.”

USCCB abuse audit warns of complacency, cites ‘room for improvement’

By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

“The annual report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ warns against complacency in dioceses, and the firm contracted to conduct audits of dioceses and parishes said there was ‘plenty of room for improvement’ in implementing two of the charter’s articles.”

Bishops’ conference releases 2015 abuse audit report

By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter

“The U.S. bishops’ conference released this morning (May 20) its 13th Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report, which covers the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, is really two reports in one …”

Number of U.S. priests accused of sexually abusing children and numbers of persons alleging abuse

Compiled by BishopAccountability.org

“As of May 20, 2016, information published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) indicates that the conference has counted 6,528 clerics ‘not implausibly’ and ‘credibly’ accused of sexually abusing minors in the period 1950 through June 30, 2015, with several gaps. Out of a total of 116,153 priests who have worked in those years, this latest number represents 5.6% of the priests.

“This interim number is instructive. As recently as November 2002, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then in charge of all abuse cases for the Vatican, said in an interview that in the United States ‘less that 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type.’ Meanwhile, in the few U.S. dioceses where investigations or disclosures have provided adequate data, including Boston, we are seeing rates as high as 10%. If that is ultimately found to be the percentage nationally, the total would rise to 11,615 priests accused of abuse.”

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Editorial: Finn’s resignation is a bitter but necessary reckoning / National Catholic Reporter

The resignation of Robert Finn as bishop of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., is a bitter but necessary moment of reckoning for leaders of the Catholic church if they hope to begin to deal seriously with their long betrayal of the community’s trust.

“Let’s be clear that this is only a beginning. Finn was removed for cause, we have been told. Finn was criminally convicted for failing to report Fr. Shawn Ratigan, who ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing and producing child pornography. Ratigan received a 50-year prison sentence.

“Finn also violated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, commonly called the Dallas Charter, which the U.S. bishops themselves wrote to guide their response to the violation of children by clergy.”

Editorial by National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.

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Voice of the Faithful Urges Pope Francis to “Act Decisively” Regarding Bishops, Clergy Sexual Abuse & His Message to Vatican Congregation

Pope Francis has recommended that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse prosecutorial arm, “act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse.” Currently, three cases in the U.S. provide an opportunity to see whether decisive action also will include holding accountable bishops who fail to act when sex abuse is revealed:

  1. Newark Archbishop John Myers has allowed a priest who had admitted groping a boy to continue working with children in violation of an agreement that barred the priest from ministering to children or holding any position involving children.
  2. Retired Los Angeles archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony, implicated in covering up clergy sexual abuse based on formerly secret archdiocesan documents, ignored a directive from present Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and has continued to preside at Confirmation and other public ceremonies.
  3. Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn remains in office despite his conviction for failing to report suspected child abuse.

Each of these bishops apparently has violated the Essential Norms of USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which have the force of canon law. In the most recent of these, although several lower-level diocesan employees have “resigned,” Bishop Myers, who several months ago had erroneously described the abusing priest in the case as having been acquitted, has not resigned.

If Pope Francis wishes to demonstrate that the Church will, at last, “act decisively” in matters of child sexual abuse, these are clear instances where he can hold accountable the bishops who fail to act in such cases. Voice of the Faithful® urges Pope Francis to call for investigations under canon law or to censure these bishops directly. He is the only person in the Church who can do so.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information about Voice of the Faithful is available on its website by clicking here.

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USCCB 2012 Audit Shows Major Weaknesses Remain in Child Protection Process

The Catholic Church’s process for protecting children from clergy sexual abuse still has major weaknesses.

Annual audits assessing compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People still do not allow fully independent auditors complete access to all information. And auditors still are discovering weaknesses in compliance at the parish level. Everyone knows it, and no one is doing anything about it.

In a news release today, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined the results of its 2012 annual diocesan audit, from which the folling is taken:

StoneBridge (Business Partners) cited limitations, including “the unwillingness of most dioceses and eparchies to allow us to conduct parish audits during their on-site audits.” It said that “the auditors must rely solely on the information provided by the diocese or eparchy, instead of observing the program firsthand.”

Another limitation is staff turnover in diocesan child abuse prevention programs. As a result, “records are often lost, and successors to the position are often placed in key roles without formal orientation,” StoneBridge reported.

Al J. Notzon, III, chairman of the National Review Board (NRB), which oversees the audits, echoed StoneBridge concerns in a letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Notzon highlighted the importance of good record-keeping “and the great significance of involving parishes in the audit process.”

Voice of the Faithful® began calling for fully independent audits with full access to all information soon after the Charter was promulgated in 2002. And VOTF’s early child protection efforts saw the same problem of compliance in parishes cited above, where already overburdened staffs were hardpressed to assume the paperwork burden required by new child protection guidelines and programs.

That was more than a decade ago. Heightened awareness and attempts to create more secure environments may have made children safer, but while these discrepancies in the Church’s audits remain, what are we to believe when Cardinal Dolan says in USCCB’s news release, “We seek … to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal.”

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