ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. PAUL-MINNEAPOLIS MN
St. Paul, MN, Dec.11, 2003 -- The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (ASPM) today reported on its compliance with The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults, adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 2002.
The Archdiocese shared the results of an extensive audit of archdiocesan compliance called for as part of the Charter and conducted by The Gavin Group, an outside auditing firm, composed primarily of former FBI agents, that is charged with reviewing nationwide diocesan compliance with the Charter. The Archdiocese was among the very first dioceses in the country to participate in the audit. Nationwide results are scheduled to be released by the U S Conference of Catholic Bishops in January of 2004.
In a letter to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, the audit team leaders, Martin Hale and Richard Held, stated the Archdiocese is in “full compliance” with all articles of the Charter. Auditors also commended the Archdiocese for having focused on the problem of clerical sexual abuse as early as 1988.
“Not only has ASPM policy long pre-dated charter requirements, but also, in several instances, its programs have gone well beyond that called for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (Charter),” their review letter stated. As an example, the Gavin Group pointed to the fact that the Archdiocese has had a full time Victim Advocacy Coordinator since 1992 who has supported 96 victims of all ages, more than half of them from outside the Archdiocese, including some from other religious denominations.
In addition to the independent survey of the diocese, American bishops also commissioned the John Jay College of Law in New York to compile a nationwide statistical summary of clergy abuse of minors. The Archdiocese today reported its own results of that survey commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board to understand the nature and scope of child abuse by clergy over the past 50 years. The national data on this survey is expected to be released in late February of 2004.
This Archdiocese’s review of its records over the past 50 years shows that during this half century, there have been a total of 26 diocesan priests who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse involving minors. These 26 priests represent 2.2 percent of the total of 1,131 diocesan priests who served in the Archdiocese during those five decades.
This review also shows that if priests of other religious orders and priests from other dioceses who have worked here are included in the fifty-year analysis, then seven more priests, or 33 in total, are known to have credible allegations of the abuse of minors. Together, these 33 priests represent 1.1 percent of the combined total of 3,026 diocesan, religious and priests from other dioceses who served in the Archdiocese during this 50-year period.
The independent survey also reported that during the 50-year period, 69 people have come forward with allegations that priests had sexually abused them when they were minors. All of these allegations were of incidents that reportedly occurred before 1988.
The Archdiocese’s review also showed that a total of $6,697,849 has been spent to address sexual abuse. None of the funds to pay for these costs came from annual giving by parishioners. Rather, more than $4 million of the total came from the Archdiocese’s insurers and the remainder came from a Clergy Benefit Fund established 80 years ago by two prominent St. Paul Catholic families, and from special reserves.
In its report to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, the audit team also proposed “opportunities” where the Archdiocese’s program for preventing and dealing with sexual abuse could be further strengthened.
These recommendations included: assigning a single official to be responsible for reacting to allegations and engaging the problem of sexual abuse; the streamlining and centralizing of record keeping of sexual abuse allegations; development of clear standards of conduct for all clergy and volunteers and ongoing communication of these standards; and implementation of stronger monitoring of confirmed offenders who have retired or left the ministry.
Archdiocesan officials began taking concrete steps this past summer to address all these recommendations from the Gavin audit team. A plan for implementing rigorous background checks on all volunteers who have any contact with children is being implemented. Explicit and broader standards for ministry are being developed and will be implemented via mandatory training sessions. Finally, a former law enforcement officer who is also an ordained deacon in the church has been hired to monitor record keeping procedures and compliance of confirmed offenders.
“All of us in our Church, clergy and faithful alike, grieve deeply that victims and their families and loved ones have suffered even one instance of this intolerable sin and betrayal of children, let alone multiple offenses,” said Archbishop Flynn who was chairman of the U S Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse that adopted the Charter in June of 2002.
“This stain will be with us for a long time. Even so, it is just that we not condemn the vast majority of our priests and religious for the egregious acts of the very few offenders, which, as this audit and review demonstrates, is clearly the case,” Flynn said. He noted that the problem of child abuse is also a broader societal problem of major proportions that needs attention by schools, athletic organizations and all who work with children.
“The disclosure we are making today,” Flynn added “and the nationwide reports that will be coming out from the U S Conference of Catholic Bishops in January and February, will respond to the commitment to transparency that we promised. Beyond that, the steps we are taking to comply with and go beyond the Charter reflect our commitment to advance our learning about this painful chapter in our Church’s long history, to restore trust and to work ceaselessly toward the day when there will be nor more victims.”
For over two decades, The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has
required reporting of child abuse or neglect to civil authorities. The
Archdiocese also mandates removal from ministry of alleged abusers, and
offers independent counseling and pastoral support to anyone who reports
having been abused. The Archdiocese adopted a policy document for dealing
with priests accused of sexual abuse of a minor in 1988 and revised it
in 1992 and again in 1997, each time drawing on a wide range of community
resources. Updating of policies and practices in response to the Charter
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