WASHINGTON (March 30, 2006) — Nearly 89 percent (or 169) of the 191 Catholic dioceses or eparchies (dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Church) which were audited during 2005 were found to be in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
This is the conclusion of the third annual 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., Winthrop, Massachusetts, headed by Mr. William Gavin, a former FBI official.
Approximately 12 percent (or 22) of the dioceses/eparchies were found not to be in full compliance with one or more of the articles of the Charter.
The 191 participating dioceses/eparchies constitute 98 percent the 195 dioceses and eparchies in the United States. The Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, were excused from the audit due to the damage suffered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita respectively. The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Eparchy of Newton for Melkite Catholics in Newton, Massachusetts, refused to participate.
Of the 22 dioceses/eparchies found not to be in full compliance with one or more articles, 21 were found not to be compliant with Article 12 on safe environment training. Four of these were found not to be compliant with Article 13 on background checks as well. One eparchy was found not to be compliant only with Article 13. One eparchy was found not to be compliant with Articles 1 on outreach and reconciliation, Article 2 on response and reporting, and Article 7 on communications as well as with Articles 12 and 13.
The methodology of the 2005 audits differed from the two previous audits for which full on-site audits were conducted for all participating dioceses/eparchies. In 2005 there were also self-reporting and focused audits.
Full on-site audits were conducted only with those dioceses/eparchies found not to have been compliant with the provisions of the Charter as of December 31, 2004; those not audited in 2004; and those requesting a full audit. The diocese/eparchies completed a 13-page Audit Instrument developed by the Gavin Group which was submitted approximately two weeks before the scheduled on-site visit to the auditor(s) who reviewed them for completeness and consistency with prior audit materials.
Any omissions or inconsistencies identified during that review were brought to the attention of the diocese/eparchy and either resolved by telephone and/or by e-mail prior to the on-site visit or scheduled for discussion during the on-site visit.
During the on-site visit, the auditors verified the responses through telephone contact or personal interviews with the responsible diocesan/eparchial employee as designated on the Audit Instrument, reviewed supporting documentation furnished by the diocese/eparchy, and conducted in-person and/or telephone interviews with parish priests/personnel.
There were 26 full on-site audits scheduled, and 24 were conducted. Nineteen of these full on-site audits were requested. Seven were mandated, and five of these were conducted.
Self-Reporting audits were conducted for those dioceses/eparchies determined to have been fully compliant with all aspects of the Charter during the 2004 compliance audit. They completed the same 13-page Audit Instrument developed by the Gavin Group which was submitted to an auditor who reviewed them for completeness and consistency with prior audit materials. The auditor clarified any omissions or inconsistencies and resolved them by telephone and/or by e-mail.
The dioceses/eparchies were advised that the auditor would verify a random selection of responses through telephone contact with the responsible diocesan/eparchial employee as designated on the Audit Instrument and could require that supporting documentation be forwarded to the auditor for review.
Auditors also conducted telephone interviews with parish priests/personnel. The Gavin Group reserved the right to schedule and conduct a focused on-site audit if any issues were not resolved satisfactorily, but only one was necessary.
There were 104 self-reporting audits. The Diocese of Beaumont was in this category but not audited.
Focused on-site audits were conducted with those dioceses/eparchies that received "required actions" during the 2004 compliance audit. (One or more "required actions" were received if there was incomplete implementation of a particular article of the Charter.) Also receiving a focused on-site audit were those diocese/eparchies that had not begun to implement the provisions of Article 12 (safe environment programs) and/or Article 13 (background evaluations). Dioceses/eparchies that had selected and scheduled safe environment programs for children by the end of the 2004 audit but which had not significantly implemented that training also received on-site focused audits.
These dioceses/eparchies completed the same 13-page Audit Instrument and were advised that the auditor would verify a random selection of responses through telephone contact with the responsible diocesan/eparchial employee as designated on the Audit Instrument prior to or during the on-site visit. Auditors also conducted in- person and/or telephone interviews with parish priests/personnel.
There were 63 focused audits. The Archdiocese of New Orleans was in this category, but it was not audited.
The bishops included in the Charter two means of accountability to ensure its implementation. The first is the annual report from the Office for Child and Youth Protection (OCYP).
The second is the National Review Board (NRB) made up of 13 distinguished lay Catholics.
In a letter to Spokane Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the USCCB, Patricia O'Donnell Ewers, Ph.D., chair of the NRB, stated, "As specified by Article 10 of the Charter, the National Review Board for the Protection of Children, appointed by the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has reviewed the 2005 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (Annual Report) prepared by the Office of Child and Youth Protection and recommends its publication. This Annual Report reflects the progress made in implementing and maintaining the standards of the Charter and is based on an annual audit process."
In his Preface to the Report, Bishop Skylstad said, "The commitment of the Bishops in Dallas remains strong as reflected in the audit results. Those strong results will not, however, be cause to rest. We will continue in our efforts to protect all children in our care and to reach out to those who have been harmed."
The 2005 Report contains a description of the methodology of the audit and its limitations, 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) which collected data on the number of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and financial costs made between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2005. This report is the subject of an accompanying news release.
The entire third Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People can be found at www.usccb.org.