Diocese passes ‘safe environment’ audit
PORTLAND, Maine — An independent, on-site audit of safe environment procedures has found the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which includes all 141 churches in Maine, in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The audit, which reviewed the period of July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, was conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York. The Diocese of Portland calls for an independent audit each year, according to communications director Dave Guthro.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was approved by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in June 2002 and revised in both June 2011 and June 2018. The mandates include permanently 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.
Guthro said since these procedures were implemented in 2002, there have been no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric in the Diocese of Portland. Over 15,000 Catholic Church employees, volunteers, priests, and educators in Maine who work with children have been trained in a safe environment program (such as Protecting God’s Children).
Auditors also reviewed the implementation of the “Circle of Grace” program for children in Catholic schools and those who participate in faith formation offered through their parishes. “Circle of Grace” serves the dual purpose of providing prevention information while educating children and youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others, said Guthro.
“This thorough, on-site review is a testament to the diocesan and parish leaders, clergy, employees, and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure the church in Maine is a safe environment for our young people and all who wish to grow their faith,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley.
“With the controls we have put in place and continuing vigilance, we can gratefully say that our diocese’s procedures have created a safer church here,” the bishop added.
Bishop Deeley encourages 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 of Portland, at (207) 321-7836 or firstname.lastname@example.org.