Child Protection Accountability
In 2002, the Catholic dioceses of the United States made a commitment, as part of the national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, to participate in two studies: an audit of how dioceses were complying with the Charter and a survey to understand the nature and scope of child abuse by clergy over the past 50 years. The audit results were announced in January 2004 and the national survey results on February 27, 2004. The Archdiocese of Washington participated and has updated information since.
What has the Archdiocese of Washington done regarding child protection?
The Archdiocese has had a Child Protection Policy since 1986. This policy was last updated in March 2007. Considered one of the most comprehensive in the nation, it has been a model for dioceses nationwide. The policy covers prevention, training, reporting and response, and pastoral care and counseling. The Archdiocese’s child protection efforts have been commended as “exemplary” by a national audit team. The Archdiocesan policy, audit results and other materials are on this web site, under "Protecting Our Children."
What has been the scope of the situation in the Archdiocese of Washington?
Since the Archdiocese of Washington was founded in 1947, 28 of 1,086 Archdiocesan or extern priests in Archdiocesan ministry have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors; one was exonerated. This represents 2.5% of the priests over the past 56 years.
When and where did these incidents reportedly occur?
The vast majority of allegations, at least 85%, reportedly occurred prior to 1980; about half of the allegations were first reported to the Archdiocese after 1994. There is no priest in ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington who has had a credible allegation made against him.
Who were the priests and what happened to them?
Since 1990, names of accused priests have been released whenever a credible allegation has been made. The priests involved have died, resigned from the priesthood, been laicized or are no longer in active ministry.
What was offered to those who made allegations?
The priority when someone has been hurt is to help that person heal. A total of 132 people have come forward. While child abuse exists throughout society, when a member of the clergy is involved, it can be particularly painful because it is such a violation of a sacred trust. The Archdiocese has long offered counseling and pastoral support when someone makes an allegation that is credible. We have found that each person’s needs are different and we work to meet their needs, while always respecting their privacy.
How much has this cost?
Over the entire 60-year history of the Archdiocese, $6.1 million has been provided for those who have come forward.
How was this funded?
None of these funds, which were paid in the past, have come from individual contributions, parish collections or the annual Cardinal’s Appeal. No parish or social services have been affected. $1.9 million was covered by insurance while the remaining came from insurance reserves (used to cover deductibles) and income on these reserves.
What should I do if I have not reported abuse I experienced?
We encourage anyone who has experienced abuse to report it to the proper authorities and to the Archdiocese. Contact information for civil reporting is in the Archdiocesan Child Protection Policy, Appendix A (online at www.adw.org). The Office of Child and Youth Protection may be reached at 301-853-5328.
What does the Archdiocese’s Child Protection Policy say?
The Archdiocese of Washington is committed to keeping children safe, and has had a written Child Protection Policy since 1986—over 20 years ago—to ensure children are a priority. This policy has been updated periodically, most recently in March 2007, under the guidance of the Archdiocesan Child Protection Advisory Board, a panel of national and local experts in the field of child welfare that also monitors compliance with the policy.
The policy, online at www.adw.org, applies to all clergy, religious, employees and volunteers involved with ministries of the Archdiocese of Washington, including parishes, schools and agencies. Key initiatives are:
- Office of Child and Youth Protection established to coordinate education and outreach.
- Mandatory reporting of child abuse or neglect to civil and Archdiocesan authorities.
- Offer of counseling and pastoral support for the person coming forward.
- Immediate removal from ministry during investigation of an allegation and permanent removal if an allegation is found credible.
- Criminal background checks and child protection training for clergy, employees and volunteers who will have substantial contact with children.
- Review by a predominantly lay Case Review Board when an allegation is made against clergy.