According to the 2007 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the “Charter”), which will be released publicly by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 7, 2008, the Diocese of Rockville Centre was found to be in compliance with all components of the Charter, with the exception of Article 12, which stipulates conditions for safe environment programs.
While the diocese has been found to be in compliance for the previous four years, Bishop Murphy voluntarily expanded the scope of the 2007 audit to include audits in parishes. The findings relating to Article 12, which were based on one parish where volunteers had not been trained as mandated by the Charter, indicate that there are cases where parishes need to provide greater assurance that safe environment education programs for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, volunteers and others is underway. The diocese has been working to identify and, if necessary, to help the parishes correct any shortcomings.
Since 2003, the diocese has completed over 64,000 criminal background screenings of priests, deacons, religious and lay staff members and volunteers who serve in diocesan agencies and the 133 parishes in the diocese.
In creating a safe environment through education, to date, over 35,000 Church personnel and volunteers have attended Virtus training; one component of the diocesan safe environment program. The Virtus training program teaches church staff and volunteers how to be on the alert for sexual abuse and how to report it. In 2007, there were 220 Virtus training sessions held. Since the program began in 2003, there have been 1064 training sessions.
In addition, the Diocese of Rockville Centre sends out 60,000 copies of “Because We Care” – a periodic newsletter that helps inform parents and volunteers about abuse awareness and prevention. Available in the parishes, schools and agencies in English and Spanish, the newsletter contains articles written by persons who have been abused, by law enforcement and those who work with victims and their families.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre maintains a high standard to help ensure that a safe environment is maintained in each of its parishes. The diocese has addressed this issue honestly, openly and as completely as possible. And yet, it will never cease to be vigilant regarding the sinful crime of sex abuse of children and minors.
The diocese continues to implement the Charter, being vigilant with its programs to handle cases of alleged sexual abuse, developing safe environment programs for children and seeking in every way possible to respond as best we can to this profoundly disturbing challenge.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre has every confidence that instances of non compliance will be rectified. Bishop Murphy, as well as the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People, are grateful to the Gavin Group for its work in helping this and all dioceses provide a safe environment for children and young people.
Sean P. Dolan
Diocese of Rockville Centre
516-678-5800, ext. 625