Archdiocese of Washington Commended for Child Protection Efforts

February 10, 2005

The Archdiocese of Washington was commended for its child protection efforts in a report released today by an independent advisory group. In related news, a separate, nationally-conducted audit found that the Archdiocese is in full compliance with the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for the second straight year.

The Child Protection Advisory Board, an independent panel of child welfare experts that monitors Archdiocesan efforts, commended the Archdiocese for a “continued commitment…to fully implementing its Child Protection Policy.”

In a letter to parishioners published with the Advisory Board’s report in today’s Catholic Standard newspaper and on the Archdiocesan website, www.adw.org, Mr. Shay Bilchik, president/CEO of the Child Welfare League of America and chair of the Child Protection Advisory Board, wrote that the Board “commends the Archdiocese of Washington for its historical and ongoing efforts to keep children safe from harm…the Archdiocese has dedicated itself to the prevention of child abuse, the reporting of suspected child abuse and the treatment and healing of those affected by the abuse of children.”

Mr. Bilchik’s letter accompanies a 4,000-word report detailing implementation of the Archdiocesan Child Protection Policy between June 1, 2003 and May 30, 2004, the first full year following its revision by the Advisory Board. The Archdiocese has had a written policy for nearly 20 years; it calls for prevention, mandated reporting of suspected abuse and efforts to promote healing of those who have been harmed. The Advisory Board expanded the policy and added new accountability measures. This revised policy has been used as a model by dioceses nationally and internationally.

During the report period, nearly 10,000 employees and volunteers who had substantial contact with children attended prevention-training workshops in English or Spanish. Over 8,000 people were fingerprinted for FBI and state criminal background checks (others were fingerprinted prior to the report period). The Archdiocese spent $440,000 to implement and comply with the Child Protection Policy and $190,000 for counseling.

No allegations were received against clergy in ministry. Two allegations dating to the 1970s were received against former priests long out of ministry. These, and an allegation against a custodian whose employer had a contract with a school, were “handled swiftly, appropriately and in accordance with the Policy,” according to Mr. Bilchik.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, said, “Each member of the Child Protection Advisory Board has extraordinary talent and great concern for the protection of children. I am grateful to the members for volunteering their time and expertise to ensure that we have the best policy possible and are implementing it effectively. I also am grateful to the staff at the Archdiocese and parishes and, perhaps most importantly, the parents and volunteers who have participated in our efforts to keep children in our care safe.”

A separate audit was conducted October 4-8, 2004 as part of a national effort to assess diocesan compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which calls for promoting healing and reconciliation; guaranteeing an effective response to allegations of abuse of a minor; and protecting the faithful in the future.

Two former FBI agents, working for the Boston-based Gavin Group, spent one week on-site reviewing records, policies and materials, and interviewing Archdiocesan staff, law enforcement officials and others during an intensive examination of Archdiocesan child protection efforts. The auditors concluded that “the Archdiocese [of Washington] was found to be compliant with all articles” of the Charter. The full text of the audit will be released later this month by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Archdiocese of Washington policy, Child Protection Advisory Board report and other materials are available at www.adw.org. Click on “Protecting Our Children.”

Contact:
Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
301-853-4515
[email protected]