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CURRENT ISSUE:  January 21, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Bishop gives OK for assessment of John Paul II High School
Christianity, tribalism clash in Kenya
Diocese commended for
sex abuse program

The Oakland Diocese continues to be in full compliance with all of the U.S. bishops’ requirements set forth in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People to safeguard them from sex abuse by priests and other Church workers.

The assessment was made by the Gavin Group of Boston based on information supplied by the diocese about its programs and procedures in place between June 2005 and June 2007. The Gavin Group conducts compliance audits of all U.S. dioceses at the request of the nation’s bishops in the wake of the clergy abuse crisis. It issued its report to Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron late last year.

The audit examined a wide range of procedures, including how the diocese handles allegations of abuse, how it screens priests, seminarians, parish and school staffs and volunteers to insure there have been no incidences of sexual behavior with children or teens, and how it trains adults to prevent sexual abuse. In all cases, the diocese was found to be complying fully with the bishops’ requirements.

The auditors cited for special commendation the diocesan safe environment program which trains all persons interacting with children how to recognize the signs of abuse, how to report possible abuse, and how to keep children safe from sexual predators.

The program requires that all adults working with children undergo the training once every three years. The training is available on-line as well as through diocesan-sponsored workshops at parish sites.

Nancy Libby, safe environment coordinator, said she is adding special trainings this year for religious education directors and catechists so they can incorporate safe environment principles into their catechetical programs. She said three safe environment curricula have been approved for use in the Oakland Diocese.

Libby also said that priests, parish staffs and diocesan personnel have undergone fingerprinting checks with the Department of Justice. Beginning this year, all volunteers will also be fingerprinted. The screening machines will be brought to parishes to make the process as easy as possible for volunteers, Libby said.

The Gavin Group auditors also commended the diocese for its sponsorship of a monthly support group for survivors of clergy sex abuse and its No More Secrets committee. The support group, led by a trained facilitator, meets the first Saturday of each month at Holy Names University. The No More Secrets group, made up of abuse survivors, advises Bishop Vigneron on how the diocese can continue to assist in survivors’ healing process.

Bishop Vigneron, who has held apology services at each parish where abuse took place, will lead a special service at the new Cathedral of Christ the Light on Oct. 7 for the healing of all victims of clergy sex abuse and to pray that such abuse would not take place ever again.

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