State

Diocese passes audit for safe environment

PORTLAND, Maine — An independent, on-site audit of safe environment procedures has found the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The on-site audit, which reviewed the period of July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, was conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, N.Y., said diocesan officials in a Nov. 8 press statement.

The Charter, which originated in 2002, calls for an effective response from the diocese to any report of sexual abuse by church personnel, background checks on all diocesan employees and volunteers who work regularly with minors, and other mandates for the protection of children.

Auditors found 100 percent of all diocesan employees and active clergy had had background checks. Auditors also reviewed the implementation of the Think First/Stay Safe Prevention Program for children in Catholic schools and religious education, and the implementation of the Protecting God’s Children Program for all those working and volunteering in the Diocese of Portland.

“The diocese is pleased that the results of this thorough, on-site review reflect our commitment to ensuring that the Church is a safe environment for children and all those who seek a place to draw near to God,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley. “It is the collaboration of many people, including our independent review board and those who oversee the safe environment program in our parishes and institutions, that helps to ensure we remain vigilant and faithful to our commitment to overcome this evil.”

The charter includes these mandates: removing clergy who have sexually abused minors; reaching out to victims and their families with patience and compassion; reporting all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and investigating all complaints of abuse in a timely, thorough manner; implementing safe environment programs, which include abuse prevention training and awareness for all personnel and volunteers; and completing background checks on all personnel.

The bishop urged anyone who may have information about any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a church representative to contact civil authorities as well as Michael Magalski, director of the Office of Professional Responsibility for the diocese, at (207) 321-7836 or michael.magalski@portlanddiocese.org.

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