Mary Beth Hanus, director of the Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention, receives calls concerning the archdiocese’s efforts to protect and assist potential victims of clergy abuse, in response to the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The archdiocese was recently found by an independent audit to be in compliance with the charter for the 17th consecutive year. MIKE MAY/STAFF

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Child protection program passes annual audit

For the 17th consecutive year, the Archdiocese of Omaha’s child protection policies and procedures were found to be in compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Stonebridge Business Partners, an audit firm retained by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, conducted the independent, on-site audit, reviewing records and interviewing archdiocesan, parish and school employees, clergy and members of the archdiocese’s Review Board.

The audit also looked at reporting of and responses to allegations of sexual abuse, efforts to promote healing and reconciliation for survivors of past clergy and sexual abuse, and background checks for priests, deacons, educators, volunteers and other personnel.

The archdiocese’s safe environment training curriculum, which is also being used in 40 dioceses across the country, was also examined.

In 2020, 25,365 children received that training, with 13,258 clergy, employees and volunteers who work with children and parents receiving background checks and safe environment training and resources.

The archdiocese’s child protection efforts are spearheaded by its office of Victim Outreach and Prevention, headed by Director Mary Beth Hanus. Her office was established in 2004 in response to the 2002 implementation of the U.S. Bishops’ charter.

“Children and youth rely on all of us to build a robust and watchful safety net so they can grow and prosper in their faith, free of harm,” Hanus said. “The yearly national audit gives us a comprehensive ‘snapshot’ of how we are doing. The results tell us we are fulfilling our mission.”

Hanus’ office provides a means for reporting clergy abuse and obtaining resources such as counseling to help with healing.

Those wanting to report an allegation of sexual abuse, obtain assistance, or learn more about the archdiocese’s safe environment policies and programs can call 402-827-3798.