How Chicago Archdiocese Will Stop Abuse

By Rob Olmstead
Daily Herald [Chicago IL]
September 18, 2003

The Archdiocese of Chicago Wednesday announced a new initiative to protect children from sexual abuse, designed along the lines of requirements established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The initiative includes the formation of the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, which will be headed up by Jan Slattery, the director of Ministry in Higher Education for seven years.

Carol Fowler, Director of Personnel Services said the bishops' mandate played a part in the initiative, but there was more to it than that.

"It was an impetus for us doing it now and moving on it quickly," said Fowler. "(But) our motivation is more related to 'it's the right thing to do.' "

As part of the new initiative, the archdiocese will perform criminal background checks on all staff members - including priests - and for volunteers who work with children and disabled adults. The checks will be performed by Investigation Technologies LLC.

Fowler said the archdiocese had been using the state police to run checks, but believes the new process will be more comprehensive because it includes national data, not just Illinois convictions.

Those who work with children will also be subject to a check by Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services, which tracks reports of child abuse and neglect.

In addition, all priests and staff members of the archdiocese - including churches, schools and agencies - will have to complete training in the prevention of sexual abuse. That means more than 25,000 will undergo training, Fowler said.

"This is a major effort to ensure the safety of the children and young people in our care," said Cardinal Francis George in a prepared statement.

Slattery's background includes working at Loyola University and teaching science at three Catholic high schools. She has a master's degree in Education from Loyola.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the initiative shows progress on the church's part, but worried that the policies might not be enforced.


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