April 03, 2006

Catholic diocese still falls short on abuse, state audit says

Concord Monitor

Monitor staff

March 31. 2006 8:00AM
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester has failed to ensure that priests, employees and volunteers who work with children have passed criminal background checks or attended training aimed at preventing and identifying abuse, a state audit of the church revealed.

The audit, released yesterday, identified flaws in the Catholic Church's attempt to live up to the terms of the agreement it reached with the state in 2002, a deal that enabled the church to avoid criminal charges of child endangerment despite decades of protecting abusive priests in its handling of sexual-abuse allegations.

The church has taken some important steps to protect children in the three-plus years since the agreement, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said. But the deficiencies named in the audit - which was delayed nearly a year-and-a-half by a protest from the diocese over the terms and cost - must be addressed immediately. The church has 30 days to come up with a plan to fix the problems or risk facing legal action from the state, said Ayotte, who blamed Bishop John McCormack's administration.

"The fundamental problem appears to be a failure to take responsibility at the top of the diocese," said Ayotte, who submitted the inch-thick audit report to the church earlier this week with a letter listing the specific findings that need to be addressed.

Posted by kshaw at April 3, 2006 05:05 PM