Archdiocese in step with charter

The Archdiocese of Omaha reported separate sexual abuse allegations in fiscal year 2016-17 involving two priests that dated back 24 years in one instance and nearly 60 years in another, according to the archdiocese’s annual audit report.
One complaint was unsubstantiated and the other allegedly occurred in another diocese.
The on-site audit by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, N.Y., was one part of the archdiocese’s continued implementation of the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” adopted in 2002.
The unsubstantiated allegation came from a relative of an alleged victim against a now-laicized priest of the archdiocese, stemming from an alleged incident in 1994. The archdiocese could not investigate further because the alleged victim, a minor at the time living in the archdiocese, did not come forward to pursue the complaint, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor.
The other incident allegedly occurred in 1960 in Minnesota and was reported in Fargo, N.D., against a priest of the Omaha archdiocese who at that time was seeking to exercise his priestly ministry outside of the archdiocese and has since died, Deacon McNeil said. The Fargo diocese handled that investigation and outreach to the alleged victim. The Archdiocese of Omaha included the allegation in its report because it was made against a priest of the archdiocese, he said.
The archdiocese’s efforts to report and investigate complaints and its efforts to protect young people through training of youths, clergy, teachers, volunteers and others once again fully complied with the charter, continuing a record that dates back to the U.S. bishops’ adoption of the guidelines, Deacon McNeil said.
“Our processes and procedures are always being tweaked and improved,” he said. “We don’t accept mediocrity.”
The archdiocese was among 191 dioceses found to be in compliance with the charter, and one of 63 dioceses/eparchies that participated in on-site audits, according to the 15th annual national report on implementation of the charter released June 1.
Two eparchies and one diocese did not participate in the audit this year, and three eparchies participating in on-site audits were found to be noncompliant.
Nationally, 654 adults came forward with 695 allegations and 24 minors reported a total of 24 complaints. Of those involving minors, six complaints were substantiated – four of the six were against the same priest – and the clergy were removed from ministry. Eight allegations were unsubstantiated and five investigations were ongoing. One allegation was referred to a religious order for investigation and another to an international diocese.
Around the country, more than 1,700 victim-survivors received ongoing support from the church. More than 2.5 million background checks were conducted on church clergy, employees and volunteers, and more than 2.5 million adults and 4.1 million children have been trained to identify and report the warning signs of abuse.
The annual report has two parts. The first is the compliance report by StoneBridge. The second is the “2017 Survey of Allegations and Costs,” conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington. D.C.
Dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported spending more than $263 million in the fiscal year July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, related to child protection efforts and payments to victims, attorney fees and other aspects of allegations.
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