NEWTON, Mass. – With no fanfare and practically no media coverage, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2011 child protection audit last month. Promoters of secrecy and cover-up of clergy sexual abuse in the Church might be rejoicing at this lack of attention, but Voice of the Faithful® sees it as an incitement to continued vigilance.
Voice of the Faithful’s concern about these audits remains their self-reporting process and lack of any means of censure or correction for bishops who refuse to follow or fail to follow the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Reliance of auditors on information filtered through the dioceses is evidence of the inherent weakness of the audit process. Further evidence of the audit’s weakness include court actions in Philadelphia and Kansas City, two dioceses that passed the audits during the periods when the transgressions occurred, yet still failed to report the abuse properly, and the refusal, without consequences, by dioceses in Oregon and Nebraska and several eparchies to follow the charter.
In addition, auditors visit only a minority of dioceses each year to conduct audits in person and prepare their report, and perhaps most alarmingly, the 2011 report warns of “growing complacency” on the part of bishops and superiors of religious orders to coordinate activities related to sex-abuse allegations.
As a result, although the 2011 audit report says the charter is doing a good job of raising awareness and training children, parents and Church employees to recognize abuse and its precursors, the audit remains focused on numbers, like numbers of people trained and costs associated with settlements and therapy for survivors. The report does not address the more critical issues of making the audits independent of diocesan control and holding bishops accountable when the reported information proves faulty. Both steps, are essential to healing and renewal for the Church.
VOTF notes, as well, that positive steps toward transparency and accountability and changes in attitude and language that have taken place in the Church since clergy sexual abuse became widely known 10 years ago are due in no small part to the light VOTF, other like organizations, prosecutors, victims’ lawyers and the media have shone on the scandal.
Voice of the Faithful—Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.
Contact—Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360 Office, 617-291-3495 Cell, firstname.lastname@example.org