The Des Moines Catholic Diocese gets a favorable review from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its third annual audit.
Ann Marie Cox, a spokeswoman for the diocese, says the diocese is found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. She says it’s confirmation that the Bishop and diocese are doing all they can to follow the guidelines for protecting children, protecting them, and trying to prevent sexual abuse by clergy. She says a sign of that may be the fact that 2005 brought just one complaint of a child abused by a clergy member, and it was an incident that happened more than two decades ago.
It’s been a “monumental effort” on the part of the diocese, she says, and across the country. The Des Moines diocese has adopted a program that helps teach coaches, teachers, parents and others learn what their role is in protecting children. The goal is to shield children from all the burden of resisting abuse, and teaching others to make sure there aren’t opportunities to prey on children.
“It’s simple stuff that you might not ordinarily think of,” Cox explains, like making sure doors are open, and if a room is not needed that its door is locked and not just closed — just removing opportunities. More than three-thousand clergy, teachers, coaches, youth ministers and others have now been trained in creating a safe environment. She says it’s not a completely rosy picture, since there are people out there who did suffer abuse, and for them the pain is life-long.
Cox says the church’s goal now is to work with people toward healing and make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else. The Catholic Diocese of Des Moines includes 82 parishes in 23 counties in central and southwest Iowa.