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Feature News | Friday, July 14, 2023

Bishops release annual report on sexual abuse

Allegations involving current minors account for 16 of 2,704 reported in past year

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WASHINGTON | The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released the 2022 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nationwide. A survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University regarding allegations of abuse of minors is also included as a part of the report. 

This is the 20th such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive framework of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and establish protocols to protect children and young people.

The 2022 report for audit year July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022, states that 1,998 victim survivors came forward with 2,704 allegations. The number of allegations is 399 less than that reported in 2021 and 1,548 less than that reported in 2020. This decrease is due in large part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies. Of the allegations received, 2,217 (83%) were first brought to the attention of the diocesan/eparchial representative by an attorney. Allegations involving current minors account for 16 reports. All other allegations were made by adults alleging events that occurred when they were minors.

During the audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 254 victim survivors and their families who reported during the audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,589 victim survivors who had reported in prior audit periods.  

The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.

The report notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2022, the Church conducted 2,144,161 background checks on clergy, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2022, over 2.1 million adults and over 2.9 million children and youth were trained in how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs. These numbers had decreased significantly during the previous two years but are now increasing as society returns to activities enjoyed prior to the COVID pandemic. 

The audit process included in-depth evaluation of 62 of 196 dioceses and eparchies by StoneBridge Business Partners and data collection from 132 dioceses and eparchies. Additionally, 194 dioceses and eparchies participated in a study conducted by CARA.

There were three instances of non-compliance: Diocese of Birmingham, Diocese of Lubbock, and Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands each had instances of noncompliance related to Article 2 of the Charter and the functioning of the Diocesan Review Board. 

Two eparchies did not participate in the audit: the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy. 

The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter. 

This most recent annual report, and all previously published annual reports, may be found on the USCCB website https://www.usccb.org/offices/child-and-youth-protection/audits. Additional information on diocesan requirements for the protection of children and young people may be found here and seen below.

 

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