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Audit report released; bishops urged to renew vigilance ‘each day’

Audit reports increase in abuse claims, with less than 5 percent occurring since 2000

WASHINGTON — The 16th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” shows a significant increase in the number of abuse allegations over last year’s report because of additional claims received in five New York dioceses after implementation of their Independent Reconciliation and Compensation programs in the last year.

Released May 31, the report for audit year July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, states that 1,385 survivors of child sex abuse, including 26 minors, came forward with 1,455 allegations. In last year’s report, charges were raised by more than 650 adults and 24 minors.

Twenty-six of the new allegations reported by dioceses and eparchies involved current minors — 12 males and 14 females — and came from three different dioceses, the report said.

Of the other new allegations reported by dioceses and eparchies, 47 percent were said to have occurred or began before 1975; 43 percent between 1975 and 1999; and 5 percent since 2000. The most common time period for when these reported allegations occurred was 1975 to 1979, followed by 1970-1974.

More than half of new allegations reported by religious institutions in the latest audit year, or 55 percent, are alleged to have occurred or begun before 1975; 41 percent occurred or began between 1975 and 1999; and 1 percent (two allegations) occurred or began after 2000.

Regarding the 26 allegations involving current minors, the report said that as of June 30, 2018, three claims were substantiated and the clergy were removed from ministry; seven were unsubstantiated; three were categorized as “unable to be proven”; investigations were still in process for six of these allegations; two were referred to a religious order; two were reported as unknown clerics; and three were not claims of sexual abuse, but were boundary violations.

The report was issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners.

“While much has been done to ensure survivor ministry and the protection of the vulnerable are core values of the Church, improvements still must be made.” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said in the report’s preface. “We must continually rededicate ourselves to keeping our promise to protect and pledge to heal. Not once, not twice, but every single day.”

Audit of dioceses and eparchies

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington, gathers data for the annual audit report. StoneBridge Business Partners, based in Rochester, N.Y., provides the compliance report based on visits to dioceses and eparchies and reviews of diocesan documentation.

During 2018, StoneBridge conducted on-site audits of 72 dioceses and eparchies, and collected data from 122 others. All dioceses/eparchies were found compliant except for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., which, the report said, had not complied with article 7 of the charter requiring dioceses “to be open and transparent” in communications regarding allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, “especially those parishes that may have been affected.”

Three eparchies did not participate: the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace, based in Elmont, New York; the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego; and Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix.

Under canon law, dioceses and eparchies cannot be required to participate in the audit, but it is strongly recommended that they do.

In the new audit report, the CARA data shows that more than nine in 10 alleged offenders, or 92%, identified during the 2017-2018 survey year were already deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized or missing. Most abuse reported occurred between 1960 and 1990, peaking in the 1970s.

Dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported paying out $262,619,537 for costs related to allegations between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. This includes payments for allegations reported in previous years. That payout figure is under the amount reported the previous year.

Outreach and support was provided to 472 victims/survivors and their families who reported abuse during this audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,542 victims/survivors and their families who reported abuse in prior audit periods. Support may include counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services.

The report also notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2018, over 2.6 million background checks were conducted on Church clerics, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2018 over 2.6 million adults and 3.9 million children and youth also have been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis directs all persons with reports of abuse involving a member of the clergy or other church personnel to contact the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 392-3738 and law enforcement officials. Concerns may also be directed to Sandra Price, executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection, at (314) 792-7271.

>> Full report

The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found at www.bit.ly/2HPjXqz.

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