On July 14, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released its 2022 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 audit 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. A survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University regarding allegations of abuse of minors is also included as a part of the report.
This is the twentieth such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive framework of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and establish protocols to protect children and young people.
The 2022 report for audit year July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022, states that 1,998 victim survivors came forward with 2,704 allegations. The number of allegations is 399 less than that reported in 2021 and 1,548 less than that reported in 2020. This decrease is due in large part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies. Of the allegations received, 2,217 (83%) were first brought to the attention of the diocesan/eparchial representative by an attorney. Allegations involving current minors account for 16 reports. All other allegations were made by adults alleging events that occurred when they were minors. (Read more on the USCCB website)
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 2020-21 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.
Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal
The Diocese of Grand Rapids 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. Contact the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator at 616-840-2079 or by email at [email protected].
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 616-840-2079 or by email, [email protected]. 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.