Audit: Diocese complies with child protection standards

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PROVIDENCE — An audit conducted by The Gavin Group, an independent Massachusetts-based consulting firm during October of this year has found the Diocese of Providence to be in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The Gavin Group assigned two individuals, both of whom are retired members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to review the Diocese of Providence’s child protection efforts and methods of reporting allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for appropriate audit mechanisms to determine if dioceses and eparchies are complying with the provisions of the Charter.

In a letter to Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, William A. Gavin, of The Gavin Group wrote:

“The conclusions reached as to the compliance of your Diocese with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People are based on the completeness and accuracy of the information furnished by the Diocese to The Gavin Group, Inc. during the course of this audit.”

“This announcement is witness to the strength and effectiveness of our child protection program,” said Bishop Tobin. “I remain fully committed to the tenets of the charter and the safety of children and young adults who contribute to the vibrant life of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island.”

The USCCB reports that compliance audits are conducted by a team of auditors who visit the diocese to conduct interviews, review policies and records where pertinent, and interview a variety of persons — chosen by the auditors — both inside and outside of the church. Interviews may include diocesan or eparchial officials, victim/survivors of abuse, law enforcement officials, priests, deacons, pastors and parishioners. Results of the compliance audit are provided to the dioceses within two weeks following the completion of the audit. All reports will be posted on the USCCB Web-site when the 2004 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter is issued.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has in place one of the strongest anti-sexual abuse programs in the United States. Nationally recognized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the diocese’s policy clearly states that known sex offenders are not permitted to serve in active ministry. Bishop Tobin upholds and strictly enforces the diocese's strong protection program. Continually reaffirming the commitment to ensuring safe environment in the church, the diocese’s policy is regularly reviewed by professionals in the areas of psychology, ministry and law, and is updated as required.

A pastoral response program exists for alleged victims, providing non-prejudicial psychological counseling. To arrange counseling and learn about other support services, call 946-0728 or write: Office of Outreach and Prevention, 80 Saint Mary’s Drive, Cranston, RI 02920.