By Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer
Diocese of San Angelo
In 2002 the U.S. Catholic Bishops created a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in response to the reports of child sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy. At the same time they also created the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People (OCYP) to help them monitor compliance with the Charter by all dioceses in the United States. During the past three years the Diocese of San Angelo has been audited by the OCYP and has been shown to be in complete compliance with all requirements of the Bishop’s Charter each year. For 2006 the OCYP decided there would be no audits for each diocese as preparations are being made for a major audit of all Catholic parishes in 2007.
In the absence of a required audit this year, I have commissioned a self-audit of parishes within the San Angelo Diocese, which encompasses 29 West Texas counties. During October and November, 14 parishes were selected at random and audited for compliance with the Bishop’s Charter. Parishes were audited to insure that employees and volunteers who work with children and youth have completed Criminal Background Checks and attended the diocesan Ethics and Integrity in Ministry Workshop. Parishes were also audited to insure that they have been conducting workshops for parents and children on the prevention of child sexual abuse, as well as having displays of information on hand for those who may
have been victims of sexual abuse by Church Personnel.
I would like to take this opportunity to report that 13 of the 14 audited parishes are in compliance with Background Check and Ethics Workshop requirements, and that we are working to bring the one parish that was not in compliance up to standards. I am also able to report that 13 of 14 parishes have conducted parent and children’s workshops during the past year, and that all have workshops scheduled during the present school year. Lastly, all parishes have information brochures readily available for those who may be victims of sexual abuse by Church personnel.
We will continue to conduct parish audits through May of next year. From these audits, I can already see that our parishes are working hard to fulfill the spirit and requirements of the Bishops’ Charter. I find this very encouraging. There is still much to do, but I believe we have made, and will continue to make great progress in striving to protect our children and youth from sexual abuse, as well as reach out to those who may be past victims.