WASHINGTON(February 18, 2005) – By December 31, 2004, 187, or 96.3 percent, of all dioceses and eparchies (dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Churches) were compliant with 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 second 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 first report was issued on January 6, 2004.
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.
The compliance audit measured how the dioceses/eparchies are faring in integrating the Charter's standards into their diocesan administration.
Fifty-six auditors conducted the independent audit of dioceses/eparchies between July 26 and December 17, 2004.
Of the 195 dioceses and eparchies, 194 were audited. The audit considered only the actions taken by dioceses/eparchies since the last audit which was conducted in 2003. It did not assess the activities adopted by them to protect children and young people prior to June 2002. One hundred forty-four dioceses and eparchies (74.2 percent) were found to be in compliance at the time of their audit; and of the 50 who received Required Actions, 43 remedied the non-compliance issues by December 31, 2004.
When there was incomplete implementation of a particular article of the Charter, a diocese/eparchy would receive one or more "required action" notices from the auditors.
A total of 91 of these required actions were issued to 50 dioceses and eparchies in the 2004 compliance audit process. Most required actions were issued for non-compliance with Article 12 (safe environment programs) and Article 13 (background evaluations). No required actions were issued for Articles 3 (confidentiality agreements), 14 (transfer of clergy), 16 (cooperative research), and 17 (formation programs).
Of the 50 dioceses/eparchies which received required actions, 43, or 86 percent, remedied the non-compliance issues by December 31, 2004, and are now considered compliant with all articles of the Charter.
Thus, by December 31, 187, or 96.3 percent, of all dioceses and eparchies audited were compliant with all articles of the Charter. Compliance with all articles of the Charter does not necessarily mean that all programs mandated by the Charter had been fully implemented. Dioceses and eparchies could be considered compliant if Charter programs have been developed or selected and scheduled for implementation.
Seven dioceses and eparchies, or 3.6 percent, did not complete all of their required actions by December 31, 2004, and are considered non-compliant with a specific article or articles of the Charter.
At the conclusion of the 2003 compliance audit process, 19 dioceses and eparchies had been found non-compliant with a specific article or articles of the Charter.
Of the 19 dioceses and eparchies that were non-compliant in 2003, only one was also found non-compliant in 2004.
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 the implementation of the Charter, of which this Report is the second.
The second is a review board of distinguished lay Catholics – the National Review Board (NRB) – to approve the annual report.
In his Introduction to the Report, Spokane Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the USCCB, said, "This second annual Report on the Implementation of the 'Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People' is the result of the commitments made by the Catholic Bishops of the United States when we adopted the Charter in June 2002. One of these commitments was to be publicly accountable for fulfilling the actions outlined in the Charter to help heal those wounded as young people by sexual abuse by clergy and to prevent such abuse in the future."
Bishop Skylstad said that in reviewing the report as USCCB president, "I am happy to see the great extent to which the Charter's principles have been incorporated into the life of our dioceses. There is undoubtedly progress still to be made, and we can still understand this problem more fully as well as find more and even better means to confront it."
In a letter accompanying the Report, addressed to Bishop Skylstad and to Dr. Nicholas Cafardi, Chair of the NRB, Kathleen McChesney, Ph.D., executive director of the OCYP, said that "While considerable progress has been made in implementing the Charter, it is imperative that bishops, priests, religious, and lay people representing the Church continue to recognize that sexual abuse has a permanent impact upon its victims.
It is dangerous to assume that compliance with this Charter is all that is necessary to prevent abuse, restore confidence in the Church, and to bring healing and hope to those who have been harmed. Much more is required, but nothing is required that is beyond the ability of those who live and uphold the tenets of the Catholic faith."
In a letter to Bishop Skylstad, Dr. Cafardi stated: "Based on our review, the Board approves this report and the recommendations contained therein. The Board urges the bishops of the United States to maintain a process of external review of their policies, procedures, and practices in order to ensure that the commitments to protect children and young people contained in the Charter continue to be fulfilled."
The 2004 Annual Report contains a description of the methodology of the audit and its limitations, the annual survey of allegations and costs, comparison of the 2003 and 2004 audit results and an analysis of the audit findings, and recommendations for the future.
The Report also contains the results of a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) conducted during December 2004-January 2005, which collected information on new allegations of sexual abuse of minors and the clergy against whom these allegations were made.
The entire second Report on the Implementation of the 'Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,' along with executive summaries of the results for each audited diocese, can be found at www.usccb.org.