WASHINGTON (January 6, 2004) -- All dioceses and eparchies (dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Churches) have been found "to be compliant with some or all articles" of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," adopted by the Catholic bishops of the United States at their meeting in Dallas in June 2002.
This is the conclusion of the Report on the Implementation of the `Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,' issued by the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The Report is based on an independent compliance audit conducted by the Gavin Group, Inc., of Boston Massachusetts, headed by Mr. William Gavin, a former official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was in charge of FBI offices in New York, Miami, and Denver.
More than fifty auditors, most of them former FBI agents, conducted the independent audit of dioceses/eparchies in teams of the two to six, mostly between late June and November, 2003.
One hundred ninety-one dioceses/eparchies were audited, with three re-audits due to special circumstances. Three dioceses/eparchies could not be audited at this time due to scheduling or legal issues. An eparchy that was created in mid-2002 was not included in the present audit.
The compliance audit measured how the dioceses/eparchies fared in their efforts to integrate the "Charter's" standards into their diocesan administration.
The audit considered only the actions taken by dioceses/eparchies since the adoption of the "Charter" in June, 2002. It did not assess the activities adopted by them to protect children and young people prior to June, 2002.
As a result of the audit process, dioceses/eparchies received "commendations," "instructions," and/or "recommendations."
One hundred twenty-nine of the audited dioceses/eparchies or 68 percent received from one to six commendations. Commendations were usually issued for innovative procedures and exceptional transparency and openness about the problem of sexual abuse. More than 180 commendations were issued.
An "instruction" was issued when circumstances indicated that a particular article of the "Charter" had not yet been implemented. The auditors specified a date by which action was to be taken on an instruction.
A recommendation was issued when there was incomplete implementation of a particular article of the "Charter" or where significant improvement could be realized. The auditors also specified a date for acting on recommendations.
One hundred thirty-one instructions were issued to 57 dioceses/eparchies (or 30 percent of those audited), of which 81 or 62 percent were addressed by the end of the audit.
Two hundred ninety-seven recommendations were issued to 125 dioceses/eparchies (or 65 percent of those audited), of which 258 or 87 percent were addressed by the end of the audit.
Thirty-four of the audited dioceses/eparchies or 18 percent had unaddressed instructions and/or recommendations by the end of the audit.
Twenty of the audited dioceses/eparchies, or approximately 10 percent, are listed in Section I of the Report as having unaddressed instructions at the conclusion of the audit.
Unaddressed recommendations are noted in the summary for each diocese/eparchy that is included in the Report.
Dioceses/eparchies were not rated or compared to one another.
The bishops included in the "Charter" two means of accountability to ensure its implementation. The first is the Office of Child and Youth Protection (OCYP) which is required to produce an annual report on implementation of the "Charter," of which this Report is the first.
The second is a review board to monitor and assist the OCYP and to approve its annual report. This board of 12 distinguished lay Catholics has come to be known as the Nation Review Board (NRB).
In his Introduction to the Report, Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the USCCB, says, "I am happy to say that it indicates that the Catholic dioceses and eparchies of the United States have put a tremendous effort into making the `Charter' very much part of the life of the Church since the Dallas meeting."
He adds that the Report "also shows that in Dallas we could not foresee everything that needs to be done. And so the report contains valuable recommendations for further strengthening the Church's response to the sexual abuse crisis in all its dimensions."
Bishop Gregory concludes his Introduction by saying, "We cannot, without failing to be the community that the Lord intended us to be, neglect to keep children safe and secure. Nor can we fail to reach out to those who were harmed as children, to be of whatever help we can to them. As we said to the Catholic people in the `Charter,' `Let there now be no doubt or confusion on anyone's part: For us, your bishops, our obligation to protect children and young people and to prevent sexual abuse flows from the mission and example given to us by Jesus Christ himself, in whose name we serve.'"
In a letter accompanying the Report, addressed to Bishop Gregory and to Justice Anne M. Burke of Chicago, Interim Chair of the NRB, Kathleen McChesney, Ph.D., executive director of the OCYP, expresses the hope that "true healing will occur and children and young people will be safe and secure within Catholic Church environments in the United States" through "increased pastoral outreach, the full implementation of safe environment programs, and careful adherence" to the "Charter" and its companion canonical "Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons."
In a letter to Bishop Gregory, Justice Burke indicates that the NRB has reviewed the Report. Justice Burke states that the Report "appears to objectively measure the progress of each Catholic diocese and eparchy in the United States relative to implementing the provisions of the `Charter.'"
Besides an executive summary, a description of the methodology of the audit and its limitations, and an analysis of the audit findings, Section I of the Report also contains nearly seventy recommendations with regard to addressing the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the implementation of individual articles of the "Charter," additional research, and future accountability.
Section II of the Report contains summaries of each of the 191 individual audit reports.
The entire Report on the Implementation of the `Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People' can be found at www.usccb.org.