Audit Finds Boston Archdiocese Complies with Child Protection Standards

April 12, 2007

An independent audit has determined that the Boston Archdiocese has met the child protection safety standards adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the archdiocese announced.

An audit by the Gavin Group found the archdiocese had complied with all 13 of the audited standards after addressing shortcomings in “safe environment training” for children.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said the archdiocese has made major progress in its efforts to protect children.

“While much has been achieved, I recognize that work must continue to be done in order to maintain safe environments in both our churches and schools,” O’Malley said in a statement.

Among the issues evaluated in the audit: ensuring clergy and volunteers had criminal background checks and whether proper requirements for reporting abuse were in place.

The Boston Archdiocese was one of 11 dioceses nationwide to participate in a review of its child protection policies. The Boston Archdiocese released its results in advance of the national report by the bishops.

As of June 2006, the archdiocese was not in compliance with the bishops’ child protection standards, primarily because 22 of 30 parishes audited had inadequate “safe environment training” for children, according to the audit by the Gavin Group, based in Winthrop.

Such training includes teaching kids what kind of touching is inappropriate, how to report improper touching and how to avoid situations where sex abuse could occur.

By December, the archdiocese had implemented the training at 15 of the 22 parishes where it was inadequate. The children and youth at the seven parishes who didn’t have the training represented 2 percent of the total number of children and youth in the entire archdiocese, “which is within the range of acceptable compliance,” the Gavin Group said.

The conference of bishops adopted the national safety standards after the clergy sex abuse crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, when internal church documents revealed that priests who had been accused of abusing children were shuffled from parish to parish. The scandal led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law as archbishop in December 2002.

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