Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released their “Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/15-118-CYP-Annual-Report.pdf).”
The report contains an audit of compliance with the procedures based on the Charter. While conceding that work is still needed in some dioceses, the audit concludes that the issue of sexual abuse of minors is being sufficiently dealt with through the implementation of the Charter. Adults, including clergy, employees and volunteers, and children have received safe environment training, which helps individuals recognize the signs of abuse. Background checks are also being required. These steps certainly help, but some argue it’s too little and too late.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, over 15,000 victims of sexual abuse came forward from 2002 to 2012. In the past year, 314 credible sexual abuse allegations have been received in dioceses across the country. Almost 200 of the victims accepted counseling and services through the diocesan programs.
Also contained in the report is an amended Charter. The Charter states a promise to “re-affirm our deep commitment to creating a safe environment within the Church for children and youth.” Dioceses and eparchies are mandated to reach out to victims and survivors and their families. Policies and procedures for responding to abuse allegations are also laid out in the Charter. It is pointed out that “the vast majority of priests and deacons serve their people faithfully and that they have the esteem and affection of their people.”
Read more about the report here (http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/bishops-conference-releases-2015-abuse-audit-report).
The scars of child abuse are deep, disturbing and profound. The monstrous behavior of a predator destroys a child’s innocence, damages good health and shatters one’s foundation of trust and safety. The effects of abuse can linger for years, even after the abuse stops. Are you an abuse survivor?
Kenneth Selander, Jr. is an attorney for sexual abuse victims by Catholic dioceses. He practices in the Columbia City neighborhood of South Seattle. If you or a loved one wishes to discuss their case confidentially, please contact us. We promise respect and compassion in all of your communications with our offices.