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How the Archdiocese of Boston differs from Pennsylvania on the Sexual Abuse Crisis
Friday, October 19, 2018
You may have heard news reports that the United States Justice Department has begun an investigation in Pennsylvania involving the abuse crisis and associated speculation that their activity may expand to the church in other states. We have not heard from anyone in the Justice Department regarding their interest in the Archdiocese of Boston. We cannot predict whether or not we will hear from them in the future.
Given the public attention to this we wanted to share some facts with you regarding our work with law enforcement agencies in the past.
The Archdiocese of Boston has undergone a more thorough investigation and review of its files and historical treatment of sexual abuse of minors by clergy than any other diocese in the United States.
For the past sixteen years we have worked in partnership with all levels of law enforcement; local, state and federal to maintain the highest levels of child protection. Outcomes of working in partnership include Agreements with both the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (2003) and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts with regard to priests in federal and military service (2005). We continue to stand by both Agreements.
We report all allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy as a first step in every case. We implemented annual audits of the effectiveness of our policies and publish those results. We began disclosing the identity of publicly accused priests of the Archdiocese of Boston in 2011. It is important to note that there have been no new allegations of abuse occurring since 2006.
Also, as we recently announced, we have hired former U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern and others at his law firm to lead the review of our seminaries to meet the public’s expected levels of transparency and accountability - and certainly with respect for the commitment by all those associated with our seminaries to the highest standards of integrity, respect and safety for our seminarians, faculty and staff.
As you all are aware, our recognition of the trauma of the heinous crimes committed by clergy makes the leaders of this Archdiocese committed to the survivors in many ways - none of which can ever erase the crimes of the past but seek to sincerely assist in their healing. The Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach (OPSO) was established and funded in 2002 and each year approximately 300 survivors and, in some cases their family members, are served by the staff of OPSO including connecting and supporting their therapeutic relationships and other services (OPSO link).
Our commitment to survivors and all Catholics includes protection and prevention measures to keep all children safe. Since 2000, all clergy, employees and volunteers of the Archdiocese of Boston - central administration, parishes and related agencies must submit to annual CORI checks (approximately 50,000 checks annually) and more than 100,000 adults have been trained in the Protecting God’s Children Program.
The summary of this information is presented here to provide you with some of the facts that evidence the sincerity of our commitment to transparency, prevention and healing. There is always more work to do and we will continue with heartfelt anguish over the failures of the Church and with recognition that our anguish pales in comparison to the pain of the trauma of crimes experienced by survivors.
We hope this information is helpful to you in your ministry and in being able to answer any questions or concerns you may encounter.
About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 286 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 36,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach. Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit www.BostonCatholic.org.
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