US Bishops Steady in Resolve to Protect Children

Episcopal Conference President Notes Abuse Prevention Month

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 24, 2011 ( Though statistics show the U.S. bishops’ 2002 charter for the protection of young people has been effective, the episcopal conference president says the group is continually trying to improve it.

This was the affirmation made in a statement Tuesday from Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The statement was developed during this month’s USCCB Administrative Committee meeting in Washington.

The Administrative Committee is the highest ranking body of bishops when the full body is not in session. It meets every September, March and November.

Archbishop Dolan said he had been asked to “offer reassurances that this painful issue continues to receive our careful attention, that the protection of our children and young people is of highest priority, and that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that we adopted in 2002 remains strongly in place.”

He explained that over the past nine years, the “high promises and rigorous mandates of the Charter” have been constantly reviewed, “as we continually try to make it even more effective.”

The archbishop cited input from parents, survivors, law enforcement and others in “refining the efficiency of the Charter.”

“We want to learn from our mistakes and we welcome constructive criticism,” he affirmed. “In fact, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a long-planned review of the Charter scheduled for our June meeting.”

United as a nation

The prelate added that next month’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month, “provides us the providential opportunity to unite with all Americans in a renewed resolve to halt the scourge of sexual abuse of youth in our society.”

He continued, “We bishops recommit ourselves to the rigorous mandates of the Charter, and renew our confidence in its effectiveness. […] We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense.”

Archbishop Dolan said that “progress made must continue and cannot be derailed.”

“[W]e want to strengthen it even more,” he added; “we can never stop working at it, because each child and young person must always be safe, loved and cherished in the Church.”

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