One in Seven Dioceses Don’t Meet Charter Protections

News: US News
by Church Militant  •  •  June 12, 2019   

Which dioceses those are is 'confidential'

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WASHINGTON ( - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) audit shows that one of seven dioceses are failing in compliance with the Dallas Charter, but the way data is collected makes it impossible for the public to find out which ones they are. Dioceses also self-report, meaning whatever numbers they hand over during the audit may or may not be accurate.

Since the USCCB implemented the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, there have been annual audits of how well dioceses comply with those protections.

Each June, an annual report is issued that provides a snapshot of compliance and provides a large number of statistics explaining the work that is done by the dioceses and where the Charter protections need to be strengthened.

For instance, after the August 2018 to January 2019 audit period, the report stated, "78% of the dioceses/eparchies indicated that they require some type of adult refresher training." Another indication that the Charter needs revision is that only 54% of diocese perform audits at the parish level.

Another statistic mentioned was, "Approximately 14% of the diocese/eparchies we visited during the current audit period will require follow-up ... to ensure that procedures have been strengthened in order to avoid a potential state of non-compliance with the Charter."

Church Militant attempted to find out which dioceses were not in compliance with the Charter, but that information is not available to the public. Church Militant contacted the National Review Board (NRB) chairman, Francesco Cesareo, who said the raw data is only available to the auditors. The NRB doesn't even see the raw data.

"The audit data is confidential and only seen by the auditors themselves," he said.

The USCCB has contracted with Stonebridge Business Partners to compile the audit based off of a survey that was developed by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a research group started and funded by the bishops.

"The raw data will not be available to you," Cesareo said in an email to Church Militant. "The NRB only sees the composite report [from] Stonebridge which is what you have in the Annual Report. The audit data is confidential and only seen by the auditors themselves."

On-site audits were conducted on 72 dioceses/eparchies; data from the other 125 dioceses was collected but not included in the audit.

Cesearo explained, "When a diocese undergoes the data collection audit, there is no determination of compliance, it is simply a gathering of information."

This means that only about one-third of all of the U.S. dioceses were checked for compliance. The audit found 14% (10 dioceses) require a follow-up audit because protections for children are inadequate.

Additionally, the audit found one location that was deficient that had not made any improvements despite having a year to implement them.

Many of these findings are corroborated in news reports.

Many of these findings are corroborated in news reports. In just one of the audit's findings, 3% of the dioceses, (two or three out of 72), there is no formal plan in place to monitor the whereabouts or activities of clergy that have been removed from ministry. Fifteen dioceses (21%) do not have a policy in place regarding the relocation of clergy that have committed sexual abuse.

Examples of these deficiencies can be found with multiple cases. In the archdiocese of Chicago, after being accused of homosexual rape and possession of child pornography, Fr. Richard McGrath disappeared. Prior to fleeing, Cdl. Blase Cupich came under fire for not notifying local schools that McGrath was living nearby.

This was also seen in the case of Fr. Pat Egan, Bp. Earl Boyea admitted Egan was still meeting with kids and he wouldn't do anything to stop it.

When confronted by one of Egan's victims, Bp. Boyea said, "Now I could go and lock myself — chain myself to him and watch him 24 hours a day. Or I just have to say or I could put him in prison. I'll let you put him in prison."

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, during his tenure as the ordinary of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sent two sadomasochistic priests, Frs. Robert Wolk and Francis Pucci, out of state just prior to the police's attempt to arrest Wolk. The police had difficulty in arresting a third priest, Fr. Richard Zula, because Cdl. Wuerl would not reveal his whereabouts.

Bishop Richard Malone in the diocese of Buffalo, New York also reinstated a priest accused of gay predation to active ministry, without supervision.

Despite the diocese finding Fr. Joseph Gatto credibly accused, Bp. Malone claimed Gatto "underwent professional evaluation and remedial measures" and returned him to active ministry.

Other examples of deficiencies were found in running background checks and training, a whopping 30% of the dioceses reviewed (21 to 22 dioceses) did not update their policies based on the 2011 updates to the Charter.

The NRB's analysis of the report, they blasted the bishops for a perceived "laxity" and for being "more concerned with 'checking-off the box' as opposed to creating a culture of safety within dioceses."

"This is evidenced by the results of the audits as reported in this year's Annual Report which continue to show signs of complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses," Cesareo wrote.

In November, the NRB penned a letter to the USCCB requesting the bishops "take immediate action" to restore the trust of the faithful. The NRB called on the USCCB to develop plans to monitor abusive clergy.

Issued the day after Pope Francis blocked the bishops from voting on sex abuse reforms, the letter demanded the inclusion of bishops in the Charter.

Comprised of 18 points, it made practical suggestions for improvements in transparency and accountability, communication, data gathering and review, prevention and the audit process itself. Some of those were:

  • Make an honest assessment of past failures and accept consequences. Bishops who have been complicit through neglect or allowed abuse to continue should resign and step down from public ministry.
  • Report all allegations of child sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities in accordance with state law and refer them to your review board.
  • Utilize your review board to address allegations of clerical sexual misconduct or harassment toward all adults.
  • Implement standardized safety plans for all clergy who are confined to prayer and penance.

The NRB also asked for a review of the recommended changes they "suggested prior to the most current revision."

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