Summary Audit Report: Archdiocese of Washington Child Protection

January 06, 2004

Results of a compliance audit, developed by the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by the Gavin Group, Inc. of Boston, to assess how Catholic dioceses have complied with the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People were announced today. The audit report for the Archdiocese of Washington is below. The national audit results, including a summary for each audited diocese, is online at www.usccb.org.

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The Archdiocese of Washington, which was established as an archdiocese in 1939, and was separated from the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1947, encompasses five counties in Maryland as well as the District of Columbia, consists of 141 parishes and nine missions, 104 elementary and secondary schools, three Catholic colleges/universities, and serves a population of 556,851 Catholics, with 912 priests. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, who was installed as Archbishop in 2001, leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit of the Archdiocese was conducted during the period of August 11-15, 2003.

The information presented below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.

FINDINGS

“To promote healing and reconciliation”

The Archdiocese has a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors that provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The Archdiocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Marcia Zvara, known as the Child Protection Director, who has an extensive educational background in related areas and many years of practical experience. A lay review board, known as the Case Review Board, was established in 1996 and consists of one priest, one deacon, and eight respected members of the community, two of whom are non-Catholic. The Child Protection Advisory Board was established in 2002 to review, advise and monitor the implementation of all policies/procedures related to the protection of children in the Archdiocese. A Commendation was written for this proactive action, for tapping local and nationally recognized child experts to serve on the board, and for assigning the board to compile a comprehensive policy dealing with all aspects of the Charter. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed and electronic form. The Archdiocese does not enter into confidentiality agreements, unless requested by the victim/survivor. A Commendation was written recognizing the efforts of the Archdiocese, in particular the actions of Bishop Kevin Farrell, in establishing an exemplary child protection program.

“To guarantee effective response to allegations of abuse of a minor”

The Archdiocese has had ongoing contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse allegations and cooperates fully with them in their investigations. The Archdiocese does have a procedure for advising victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Archdiocese has a clear code of conduct for priests, deacons and other adults who have contact with children and is in the process of formalizing the code. The Archdiocese has a communications policy, reflecting the Archbishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children.

“To ensure accountability of procedures”

The Archdiocese has participated in the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.

“To protect the faithful in the future”

The Archdiocese is in the process of implementing a series of “safe environment” training seminars through the VIRTUS program for presentation to clergy, adults having substantial contact with children, and other programs for children. As mentioned above, the Archdiocese has a code of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as diocesan employees, volunteers and any other Church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people and is in the process of formalizing the code. The Archdiocese is completing background investigations on all members of the clergy and all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. A Commendation was written to the Archdiocese for its substantial investment in purchasing a technologically advanced fingerprint system and for assigning several full-time employees to the background check process. The Archdiocese has not transferred any priests or deacons who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse lodged against them to any other diocese for ministerial assignment or residence during the time period reviewed by this audit. The archbishop and the major superiors of religious orders having a presence in the Archdiocese have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious institute. The Archdiocese is not aware of any efforts by other churches, religious bodies and institutions of learning to conduct research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. The Archdiocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and has ongoing formation programs for priests.

COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE CHARTER

At the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of Washington was compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section 1. Three Commendations were issued:

Commendation 1—For taking significant steps to ensure that appropriate background checks are conducted on all adults who have contact with children, including the implementation of a fingerprint system and the dedication of several full-time employees to the background check function.

Commendation 2—For being proactive in the establishment of two review boards: the Case Review Board, which reviews allegations of sexual abuse, and the Child Protection Advisory Board which assesses, advises and monitors all policies and procedures related to the protection of children.

Commendation 3—For the actions of auxiliary Bishop Kevin Farrell, who through his direction and example, helped the Archdiocese to establish an exemplary program for child protection.

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