Colorado Prepares for Release of Church Abuse Audit
Roman Catholic Church Report to Be Read at Masses [Denver CO]
January 2, 2004

DENVER -- Beginning this weekend, thousands of Colorado parishioners will get an outline of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church's look into the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Archbishop Charles Chaput said a letter will be read at all Saturday and Sunday Masses to explain an audit conducted by the Gavin Group of Boston in each of the 194 U.S. dioceses, including Denver's.

The report is the first of three to examine how each diocese has responded to the scandal involving hundreds of priests across the nation. The second study examines the causes and prevention of abuse.

The third section, due in late February, will include a detailed list of sex abuse cases in every diocese from 1950 through 2002. The Denver archdiocese includes 380,000 members.

Chaput's letter won't discuss the results of the Denver audit, spokesman Sergio Gutierrez said. Those details will be included in a national report that will be released Tuesday in Washington.

Fran Maier, archdiocesan chancellor, has said preliminary results showed the diocese in a good light. In 1991, it became one of the nation's first dioceses to develop a comprehensive abuse policy, requiring all allegations to be turned over immediately to law enforcement authorities.

The public record of clergy abuse cases for Colorado consists of a handful of cases. Some accusations resulted in acquittals. Among the other cases, one involved a priest in the Pueblo diocese who was accused by a Boulder man of infecting him with HIV. An out-of-court settlement was reached in 1994.

The results of the national audit are not likely to impress David Clohessy, spokesman for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

"The bar is pretty low because the bishops set it themselves," Clohessy said. "So I don't believe the audit report will be particularly helpful, but I fear the bishops will try to reap tremendous PR benefits from it."

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