Action Alert!

but who audits the auditors?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 11, 2007

Nearly 5 years after the US bishops devised the "Dallas Charter" to address the sex-abuse scandal, the US bishops' conference is happy to announce that the system is working. How do we know that the program is working? We know because nearly every American diocese is following the procedures mandated in the Dallas Charter. And if they're following those procedures, well then we know that things are getting better, because... um...

Well anyway, you should be happy to know that the dioceses are "in compliance" with the Dallas Charter because, as the head of the National Review Board notes, compliance is (quick, grab a deep breath)...

...the one measure of public scrutiny that assures the Catholic lay faithful that the church is taking every means possible to reach out to those who have been harmed by individuals in the service of the church and to promote the safety and well being of the children entrusted to its care.

Exactly. It's a measure of public scrutiny, you see. And now they've measured it-- measured the scrutiny, that is-- and found that 98% of all American dioceses are in compliance, so that just proves that... um...

Anyway it's edifying to see the bishops in compliance with their own policies. “Vigilance to ensure the safety of children is now a way of life,” says Bishop William Skylstad, the president of the US bishops' conference. Audits, too, are now a way of life: audits of dioceses, audits of parishes, background checks for priests, fingerprinting for parish volunteers, training for children in the proper way to report sexual encounters. The Gavin Group audits the dioceses, and the dioceses audit themselves, and by golly some parishes have developed their own internal audits. It's all quite wonderful, and it makes you wonder why a few holdout bishops fail to see the point of the whole exercise.

And things are getting much, much better. Why, last year the American dioceses spend only $398,597,694 in "allegation-related expenditures" involving sexual abuse. Why, that's not even-- quite-- $400 million!

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 14, 2007 2:07 PM ET USA

    Another priest that my friend knows was summarily deposed from his pastorate, told to pack up and leave immediately because someone accused him of sexual abuse of a minor. No further explanation...except he states he is INNOCENT. Nevertheless, left outside to dry. How uncivil, how cruel, how unjust, how un-Christian. Is that the Dallas Charter? What about innocent 'til found guilty in a trial with a jury of your peers, being representated by a lawyer?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 14, 2007 8:09 AM ET USA

    Quit your complaining. The auditors haven't required us to undergo phallometric testing. Yet.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 13, 2007 11:19 AM ET USA

    How many widow's mites are in $400M?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 12, 2007 5:58 PM ET USA

    My two cents; the process is a ridiculous waste of time and money. It seemingly tries to assure that a priest complies with his sacred promises at ordination. If the bishop didn't intend to hold the priest accountable then he shouldn't have ordained the him in the first place. If the Bishop didn't intend to be held accountable he should have refused ordination as a bishop. Everyone knew exactly what to do and some chose not to do it. We are spending millions and we knew what to do all along.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 12, 2007 11:00 AM ET USA

    at least one diocese is hiring ex-FBI agents to conduct audits...including visits to parishes to check on "compliance." I doubt the files which hold real actionable information are seen: locked away in the Chancellory. Yep, preach heresy, gather to praise "gaia" (& all things green), perform shoddy/abusive liturgies: no problem! Don't meet the Bishop's fund raising goal, or step on parental rights to teach their kids questionable "touching safety" baloney and you're vanquished!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 12, 2007 9:28 AM ET USA

    Want to impress me, USCCB? Screen seminary applicants more severely and keep those men with homosexual tendencies away in the first place. Ask the candidates candid questions and offend them if necessary. Get personal, even. The real men with a true calling to the priesthood will emerge from this gauntlet unscathed. God is not an equal opportunity employer and He deserves only the best as priests. Few men are worthy of ordination, I believe.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 12, 2007 8:14 AM ET USA

    Proof of the effectiveness of the Dallas Charter is not compliance or how the faithful "feel;" real effectivness is detection of and prompt and appropriate response to incidents. Since many of bishops chose to hide incidents, there is no true measure of the Charter's effectiveness; so they send in the auditors to produce reports. Didn't the auditors also give Enron a "full compliance" report? Real proof will be the discipline administered to the first bishop caught hiding a pedophile priests.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2007 11:57 PM ET USA

    The audit states, "As they had in 2005, the Diocese of Lincoln and the Eparchy of Newton for Melkite Catholics refused to participate in the 2006 compliance audit process." Good for them! On August 2, 2006, CWN ran an excellent article about Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz's refusal to cooperate with this sham at

  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Apr. 11, 2007 11:57 PM ET USA

    The audit states, "As they had in 2005, the Diocese of Lincoln and the Eparchy of Newton for Melkite Catholics refused to participate in the 2006 compliance audit process." Good for them! On August 2, 2006, CWN ran an excellent article about Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz's refusal to cooperate with this sham at

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2007 11:31 PM ET USA

    Any auditor who isn't regularly reading his Plutarch will have no lamp bright enough to shine on the dim recesses of the human soul as he tries to peer through a glass darkly.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2007 10:55 PM ET USA

    wpatc64, ex cop, et al. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessments. w/these "programs" added to other "programs" added to never ending "Bishops appeals/ capital campaigns" it's hard to find where the Gospel fits in. There's definitely a lack of prudence and injustices done under the "Dallas Charter," and what's followed. Meanwhile, are homosexuals being denied admission to seminary formation programs? Maybe there'd be less of a prob if we stuck to THE Way of Life, instead of "a way of life."

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2007 7:31 PM ET USA

    The rules are a pain in the neck. We have to have training every year for all the students in our high school, and all the parents (offered) and briefings for the faculty. Every three years we have to put on the most depressing program I've ever seen on child abuse. It's just all too much. Meanwhile, almost every week there is a local TV story about public school teachers who are abusing children, and no hue and cry for their blood.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2007 7:17 PM ET USA

    Not all dioceses are "in compliance" and that is a good thing. A few of the more courageous Bishops are doing everything to meet the "standard" except for forcing "education programs" on children over the objections of parents..programs which are not completely in line with Catholic teaching by the way. Those few Bishops understand that the education of children is primarily a parental responsibility. I'm sure they will get "zinged" in the audit and when that happens we need to support them.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 11, 2007 5:48 PM ET USA

    Bishop Flynn "silenced" Father Altier for his objections to the "Virtus" program. Is that also part of the compliance measures???????