February 18, 2005

New audit finds near-total compliance with policies on sex abuse

Catholic News Service

By Agostino Bono
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An independent audit released Feb. 18 in Washington reported that 96 percent of the 195 U.S. dioceses and Eastern-rite eparchies were implementing every applicable article of the U.S. bishops' policies to prevent clergy sex abuse of minors as of Dec. 31.

Despite the almost-total compliance, "continued external oversight and evaluation (are) essential" since compliance "may improve or diminish over time," said the audit report for 2004 prepared by the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection.

An audit "does not ensure that all offenders or potential offenders have been appropriately removed from ministry," it added.

The 50-page report said that in 2004 there were 1,092 new allegations of child sex abuse made against 756 diocesan and religious priests and deacons, with most of the alleged abuse taking place in 1965-74. It said 73 percent of the accused, prior to the allegation, had been removed from ministry or were dead or missing. No breakdown of priests and deacons was given.

Half of the new allegations were against clergy who had been previously accused. Males accounted for 78 percent of the 1,083 accusers.

Posted by kshaw at February 18, 2005 11:47 AM