Audit: Archdiocese Is on Track
Fighting Abuse: Local Leader Gets Recommendations

By Nicole Tsong
Anchorage Daily News
August 21, 2003

Local archdiocese officials have done a good job of reaching out to victims of sexual abuse and parishes but need to work harder to ensure that youths feel safe in the church, according to the preliminary findings of an audit of the Archdiocese of Anchorage and its sexual abuse policies.

Archbishop Roger Schwietz said Wednesday that auditors met with him last week after a review of the archdiocese's policies, practices and procedures and gave him their preliminary recommendations.

Auditors are visiting dioceses nationwide to ensure church officials are implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People agreed upon at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Dallas in June 2002.

Auditors recommended the Anchorage archdiocese start programs to train people working with youths about sexual abuse, professional boundaries and how to recognize symptoms of abuse, Schwietz said. Auditors also told him the archdiocese needs to revise its written policy on issues of sexual abuse.

And the archdiocese needs to run background checks on everyone who has volunteered or done youth work in the past, not just for new hires, auditors said.

They commended Schwietz for personally going to parishes to talk about sexual abuse issues, he said. They also approved of a commission investigating internal documents for past claims of abuse, the appointment of a victim's assistance coordinator and the use of a local rape crisis center to help victims.

None of the recommendations came as a surprise, he said.

"It was an affirmation of what we needed to do," Schwietz said. "We wanted to hear from the auditors to see if we were on track with what we thought the charter demanded of us."

He plans to hire someone this fall to help the archdiocese implement the recommendations, he said.

The final audit is expected to be complete in six to eight weeks.

Daily News reporter Nicole Tsong can be reached at or 257-4450.

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