On June 25, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released its 2019 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The report is based on the findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nationwide and survey data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
Annually, the Diocese of Grand Rapids fully participates in the audit conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent auditing agency, to ensure we are successfully meeting and improving safe environment policies and procedures in accordance with the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (2002). Each year, since the implementation of the Charter, the diocese has been found to be in compliance, including for the current 2018-19 audit year.
Every three years, dioceses are required to participate in an onsite audit at the chancery. During 2018-19, the Diocese of Grand Rapids participated in both an onsite audit at the chancery as well as onsite audits at parishes and schools. Audits at the parish/school level, while not specifically outlined by the Charter, are helpful in understanding how policies and procedures are being implemented and verifying that the requirements of the Charter are being followed at the local level.
“These dioceses are to be commended for recognizing that it is only through parish audits that a bishop can have confidence that the policies and procedures in place to ensure a safe environment are being implemented,” said Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., chairman of the National Review Board.
The diocese is committed to protecting children and vulnerable adults from harm. Our safe environment program aims to prevent sexual abuse within our community and to help heal the wounds of survivors. To aid in this work, we employ a safe environment director whose role it is to ensure effective implementation of the safe environment program in the diocese that includes these components.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids encourages individuals with a reasonable cause to suspect sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy (bishop, priest, or deacon) or by any person acting under the authority or apparent authority of the Church to contact the Michigan Attorney General’s hotline at 844-324-3374, as well as the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator at 616-243-0491. You are also encouraged to report abuse directly to the appropriate civil authorities. Individuals who believe they were sexually abused as a minor by a priest or deacon or any person acting under the authority or apparent authority of the Church are urged to follow the same reporting procedures.