Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Expect Policies to Be in Compliance

NEPA News [Pittsburgh PA]
September 20, 2003

Pittsburgh Roman Catholic Diocese officials say they expect policies and practices concerning clergy sexual abuse of minors to be in full compliance with a national review board.

Representatives of the review board will be in Pittsburgh from Oct. 6-10 to determine whether the diocese, headed by Bishop Donald Wuerl, meets requirements protecting children from clergy abuse.

"Bishop Wuerl has been nationally recognized as someone who has addressed this issue in a very effective way with great pastoral sensitivity," said the Rev. Ron Lengwin, diocesan spokesman. "We have begun preparing for this visit and believe we are in full compliance."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established the National Review Board in June 2002 to audit all 195 dioceses in the United States. Auditors will determine whether Pittsburgh meets provisions outlined by the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

Provisions require that an independent review board investigate allegations of sexual abuse among clergy; a victim outreach coordinator is on hand; and dioceses conduct background checks on church employees and volunteers who work with children.

The Pittsburgh diocese has had written procedures for responding to complaints of clergy sexual misconduct since the late 1980s, said Robert Lockwood, director of communications for the diocese. A victim assistance coordinator has been available since 1993.

A national report on the results of the audits is expected to be issued by the end of the year.

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