March 03, 2005

Church Audits Don't Allay Fears

Hartford Courant

March 3, 2005
By FRANCES GRANDY TAYLOR, Courant Staff Writer Despite the piles of data on sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church being released annually, victims' advocates continue to express disappointment with the process, charging that the U.S. bishops' "self-reported" audits have not provided the answers that advocates seek.

In addition, a change in the reporting method that begins this year means that only dioceses that failed to meet the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for reporting and handling allegations of sexual abuse will get field visits. The rest of the dioceses will simply audit themselves.

About 90 percent of the nation's 195 dioceses - including Hartford, Bridgeport and Norwich - have complied with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that the bishops conference established in 2002 to address the sexual abuse crisis.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the shift from the original auditing process to self-surveys will make what was a bad situation worse.

"Right now we have admitted abusive clergy walking the streets, moving to new states and foreign countries where people don't know about them," Clohessy said.

He said the case of former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre highlights the system's deficiencies. Dupre resigned in 2004 and entered treatment in Maryland in February 2004 after two men accused him of molesting them when they were teenage altar boys. The Springfield audit, which says the diocese is in compliance with the bishops' charter, does not mention Dupre's departure or the charges against him.

Posted by kshaw at March 3, 2005 11:10 AM