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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  1. #1 by katherine moore notify comments by email and phone 919763-1500 on May 11, 2013 - 2:24 PM

    I Remember
    I remember my outrage when the Catholic Church transferred Cardinal Bernard Laws to the Vatican after he was exposed for transferring pedophile priests in his diocese. I was even more infuriated when he was allowed to participate in Pope John Paul’s funeral. For the first time in fifty years I questioned my devotion to the Church.


    As a young black child attending and receiving communion without any fear or hesitation in all-white Catholic Churches in North Carolina and Virginia in the 40’s and 50’s.

    Four Catholic nuns who traveled ten miles every Sunday on dirt roads to transport three young black children to Mass who had no other way to get to church.

    A big Irish Catholic priest who chose to work with the African-American community in the south in the 1950’s and organized a youth group among a handful of young black Catholics. That priest led this group of “rag tag” students down the main streets of a small southern city to protest segregation. One of those students, Joseph McNeil, went to A&T State University where he organized the sit-down demonstrations at the Woolworth Stores.

    I remember this same priest who procured full scholarships for several young African-American women to attend the prestigious St. Mary College in South Bend, Indiana.

    I remember requesting from the Josephites (priest’s community)a photo of Father Swift to include in a book that I am writing and being astounded at the short bio included that chronicled his remarkable life of service.

    I remember a wonderful a Catholic priest who counseled and consoled me during my years of life with an alcoholic husband and severely asthmatic son.

    I remember a priest who provided a full scholarship to my son to attend the local Catholic school when I couldn’t afford the tuition, and another Catholic priest who never asked any questions when I requested that he visit my son away in college in the hospital with a broken jaw that he sustained playing football.

    I remember an elderly Catholic priest who brought communion EVERY Sunday for ten years to my disabled grandmother .She had nothing to contribute to the Church as she lived on $85.00 a month.

    I remember a kind and gentle priest who aided me in divorcing my alcoholic husband without in criticism or judgment.

    I remarried and gave birth to a daughter. I remember another elderly Catholic priest who held my hand, prayed with me, and counseled me when my husband walked out and left me with an eighteen month old child.

    I remember two priests and two nuns who traveled with me to Wake Forest University to see that young lady graduate from college.

    I remember a kindly Catholic priest, the son of a Methodist minister, who encouraged and supported a community clinic, food bank, dental clinic, and an unbelievable social outreach that turned no one away. All run by the Sisters of St Ursula.

    I remember all of the Catholic clinics, food banks, and outreach programs sponsored by the Catholic Church throughout this country that are sanctioned by the local priests and staffed by dedicated Catholic nuns.

    Pedophile priests should be excommunicated and so should those who continue to protect them. The behavior is unconscionable as young lives are destroyed. I weep when I learn of priests who continue to commit these horrendous acts and I again ask myself if I can continue to support the Roman Catholic Church. I THEN I REMEMBER:


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