Archdiocese issues statement on John Jay study

| May 18, 2011 | 1 Comment

The study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the causes and context of clerical sexual abuse of minors is a landmark effort that demonstrates the U.S. church’s commitment to addressing the issue and ensuring that all children are safe, said a statement issued May 18 by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Despite the fact that abuse occurs “in so many other areas where adults mentor children,” the statement said, no other body or group has undertaken a study on child sex abuse that is comparable in size and scope.

The archdiocese is “proud of the pivotal role” played in 2002 by now-retired Archbishop Harry Flynn in the creation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and in commissioning the John Jay study,” Archbishop John Nienstedt said.

Archbishop Flynn was chairman of what was then the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse from 2002-05.

Archbishop Nienstedt said the archdiocese was one of the first dioceses in the United States to address the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and others through investigation, education and preventative policies beginning in the late 1980s.

The statement outlines steps the archdiocese has taken to address the issue since the early 1990s:

• In 1992, it named an independent victim’s advocate to help ensure that those harmed by clergy or others affiliated with the church had assistance in finding help and support.

• In 1993, it instituted background checks for all clergy, parish and school employees.

• In 1995, it established a clergy review board.

• Between 2004 and 2006, the archdiocese instituted safe environment training and background checks for all adult volunteers who work with children in parishes and schools. Since 2002, more than 88,000 background checks have been made on clergy, employees and volunteers in the archdiocese. Since 2005, nearly 55,000 adults have attended safe environment training.

During the 2006-2007 school year, age-appropriate safe environment lessons were implemented in all school and faith formation classes. Approximately 75,000 children annually receive lessons in how to help keep themselves safe.

“The church in no way intends to minimize the horror of the clergy abuse scandal,” Archbishop Nienstedt said. “While it is clearly a stain that will last for some time, today, thanks to training programs and stringent background checks, along with major changes in seminary candidate screening and formation developed in light of emerging best practices, we have instituted a culture that supports the protection of all God’s children.

“Children and their parents in this archdiocese can be confident of their safety and their ability to flourish in a loving Catholic environment.”

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