The Dubuque Catholic Archdiocese this week released its annual report on allegations of priest abuse and what the church is doing to respond to the problem. The latest report names priests charged in lawsuits and other public allegations, a list that’s been refused up to now despite the demands of victims’ advocates.
Joyce Connors, who heads the Archdiocese Office for Protection of Children and Young People, says the decision was made to name those who’d be known to the public anyway. All the names in the report are of people who are either being sued, or whose names have appeared in public reports or printed letters to the editor. All were public knowledge in one way or another, so the diocese decided they could be published.
The diocese is also reviewed by an outside organization called the Gavin Group, to see that it’s in compliance with the 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They’ve been audited yearly for 3 years now by the group of trained auditors, recruited from the ranks of retired FBI workers, and Connors says the archdiocese has passed all three. She says they ask a lot of hard questions that must be answered, some about teaching children to protect themselves agaisnt predators.
Questions include how many trained educators are in the diocese, how many kids have been trained and how many parents. They’re also asked about how many new allegations have come in the last year, and how many of those name new or known offenders. It’s thorough and time-consuming, but Connors says “It’s the only way the church can start to work back towards gaining some credibility.” The report from the Dubuque Archdiocese includes a listing of accused priests, and which parishes they served at what times in the past.