April 08, 2006

Diocese progresses on child protection

Boston Globe

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff | April 8, 2006

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has made significant progress improving protection of children since the clergy sexual abuse crisis erupted four years ago, but is at constant risk of losing steam and needs to restructure the board that handles allegations against priests, a quasi-independent panel said yesterday.

In a 137-page report, the panel reviewed the vast scope of archdiocesan efforts to prevent a repeat of the abuse scandal, praising a ''major cultural and organizational change" that has included the training of more than 52,000 children in Catholic elementary schools, 43,000 children in weekend religious education classes, and 46,000 church volunteers to detect and prevent abuse. The report said that Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley has written 626 personal letters of apology and invitations to meet with him to abuse victims, and that the archdiocese has been working with 400 therapists to serve about 637 abuse victims and family members.

But the report includes numerous notes of caution, calling for a restructuring of the review board, which makes recommendations to the cardinal about the handling of abuse allegations against clergy. The board, the report says, has done an inadequate job of communicating to victims and accused priests and needs to be more clearly defined as independent. The report also says that the church nationally needs to find a way to monitor priests who were removed from ministry because they were sexually abusive.

Posted by kshaw at April 8, 2006 08:39 AM