March 31, 2006

Bishops fault local archdiocese's sex-abuse program

MINNESOTA
Pioneer Press

BY STEVE SCOTT
Pioneer Press
Months of local controversy over proposed sex-abuse prevention programs in the Roman Catholic Church have left the Twin Cities archdiocese out of compliance with the U.S. bishops' child-protection guidelines, according to a national report released Thursday.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was one of 22 U.S. dioceses out of 191 surveyed not fully meeting requirements of the bishops' guidelines, which require that dioceses offer "safe-environment" programs to all children, parents, educators, staff and clergy to help prevent abuse.

Foes complain some programs amount to inappropriate sex education that usurps parents' rights.

"The delay at this point is that parents are rightly sensitive about this,'' said the Rev. Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese's chief of staff. "We think parents not only have the right but the responsibility to be the primary educators of their kids.''

The archdiocese has trained its clergy, staff and educators and is completing training for all volunteers who may have contact with children in its parishes and schools.

But since last fall, some parents have besieged the archdiocese with complaints about a proposed "safe-touch" program, particularly one called Talking About Touching, intended for Catholic grade-schoolers in kindergarten through fourth grade. Different programs are planned for middle school and high school students.

Posted by kshaw at March 31, 2006 07:20 AM