Archdiocese Complies on Child Abuse

By Dan Horn
The Enquirer
December 13, 2007

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is in compliance with national standards for preventing child abuse, church officials said Thursday.

An annual audit found that the archdiocese had corrected problems in the way the church verifies whether volunteers who work with children took part in required child protection courses.

The archdiocese failed that portion of the review last year when auditors could not determine whether as many as 10,000 teachers, coaches and other volunteers took the courses.

Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said the problem was related to bookkeeping and that most volunteers had taken the courses. He said record-keeping is better now and anyone who could not prove they took the courses had to take them again.

"We've been working very hard at it," Andriacco said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops confirmed Thursday the archdiocese had passed the audit, which reviews child protection efforts in every Catholic diocese in the country.

The audits began when U.S. bishops tightened child protection rules in 2003 in the wake of the clergy abuse scandal.

The archdiocese now requires all volunteers to submit fingerprints so they can undergo a criminal background check. Volunteers also have been required since 1993 to take courses on preventing child abuse.

"This is not just something we woke up to," Andriacco said. "We've been doing this since 1993."

The National Review Board, which reviews the church's handling of the abuse scandal, also issued a report Thursday. The board found the church had made progress in the past few years but still needs to do more.

Board members, lay people appointed by the bishops, said the bishops must do more to help parishes after a priest is accused of abuse.

Parishes "also become victims of sexual abuse," the board stated in its report. "Members of parishes experience both a sense of betrayal or outrage over accusations that lead to removal of a pastor or associate."

Michael Merz, a federal judge in Dayton who chairs the board, said the bishops also must reach out to the vast majority of priests who never abuse children.

"Most priests never have abused a child or even someone's trust in them," Merz said. "But they bear shame by association. It's not right, but that's the fact."



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