The St. Louis Archdiocese once again has complied with the U.S. bishops’ national policy to protect children and respond to clergy sexual abuse of minors.
The archdiocese received notice from Bill Gavin of The Gavin Group Inc. that auditors from his office who visited the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 1 found the archdiocese in compliance with all articles of the bishops’ "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."
This is the second year the audits have been conducted. The 2004 audits of U.S. dioceses started in late July. The bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection contracted with the Gavin Group to do the audits.
A summary of the audit praised the archdiocese for several of its efforts. The findings cited efforts in three areas: to promote healing and reconciliation; to guarantee effective response to allegations; and to protect the faithful in the future.
"The archdiocese has clear and well publicized standards of conduct for persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse. The archdiocese conducts background evaluations for archdiocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors, using appropriate law enforcement resources where permissible. The archdiocese employs adequate screening and evaluative techniques in deciding the fitness of candidates for ordination," the report stated.
The summary cited the archdiocese for its outreach designed to offer pastoral care to family members and victims/survivors of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
"The archdiocese has a mechanism in place to respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that sexual abuse of a minor occurred," the summary explained.
It was noted that the archdiocese had no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to report to public authorities since the 2003 compliance audit. The archdiocese does cooperate with public authorities in reporting cases, the summary stated.
Also noted was that since the last audit the archdiocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another ministerial assignment.
Among other findings, the summary pointed out that the archdiocese has developed a systematic ongoing formation program.
The archdiocese’s policy is on the archdiocesan Web site www.archstl.org.
Msgr. Richard Stika, chancellor of the archdiocese, said the audit is a big help to the archdiocese in evaluating its efforts.
"The audit is an in-depth examination," he added. "It’s always good to do such a study."
The auditors interviewed pastors and met with members of the Gennesaret Committee which investigates and advises the archbishop on issues of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. They also looked at the seminary and diaconate training, Msgr. Stika said, and were in contact with the St. Louis County prosecutor and city circuit attorney.