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January 6, 2005

AUDIT FINDS ARCHDIOCESE
IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH BISHOPS' CHARTER

An audit conducted November 29 through December 2, 2004 found that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is in complete compliance with all articles of The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter was instituted by the United States Bishops at their 2002 meeting in Dallas, Texas. This audit covered the time period from September 2003 to November 2004 and was commissioned by the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Archdiocese announced the results of the 2004 audit in today's issue of The Catholic Standard & Times newspaper. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, said, "I want to reassure parents we are doing everything possible to protect children and young people. I take this responsibility very seriously. I was confident that the Archdiocese was taking every measure to be in full compliance with the Charter, and I am pleased to see that an independent auditing firm has confirmed what I believed to be true. I want parents to know that I care deeply about the welfare of their children and that, as Archbishop, I will do everything in my power to ensure that those in positions of trust never abuse their authority."

The audit was conducted by The Gavin Group, an independent auditing firm consisting of retired FBI agents. The auditors examined three areas: what the Archdiocese is doing to protect the faithful in the future, what the Archdiocese is doing to promote healing and reconciliation and what the Archdiocese is doing to guarantee effective response to allegations of abuse of a minor.

Protecting the Faithful in the Future Audit Highlights New Program
A safe environment education program for children begun this year was highlighted in the audit report. Protecting God's Children Program for Students teaches kindergarten through eighth grade students in parish schools and religious education programs about appropriate relationships and boundaries. A high school curriculum is also under development. The Archdiocese has also implemented programs for educators, parents, clergy and volunteers. More than 35,000 people have been trained in these programs in the past two years.

The audit also found that the Archdiocese has clear and well-publicized standards for persons in positions of trust. Background evaluations are required for all Archdiocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors.

Promoting Healing and Reconciliation
Auditors reported that the Archdiocese provides outreach and pastoral care to victims and their families and that there is outreach to all faith communities in which sexual abuse of minors occurred. The pastoral outreach includes a meeting with Cardinal Rigali or his representative if the victims wish. The Archdiocese also has a mechanism in place to respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that sexual abuse of a minor occurred. The audit reported on the Victims Assistance Coordinators, all of whom have extensive experience in their field. In addition, the audit pointed out that the procedures for making a complaint of abuse of a minor are readily available and are announced periodically. The Archdiocese has not entered into any confidentiality agreements during the audit period.

Guaranteeing Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has reported all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to public authorities and complies with all applicable civil laws. In all instances, the Archdiocese advises victims of their right to report allegations to civil authorities. The audit also found that there are clear and well-publicized standards of ministerial behavior for clergy and a communications policy is in effect which reflects Cardinal Rigali's pledge to be open and transparent on issues of sexual abuse of children. Cardinal Rigali said, "I wish to assure the faithful that the Archdiocese complies with the standards agreed upon by the bishops and that, with the help of the laity and clergy who are undergoing the training sessions we are providing, we will take any and all steps necessary to ensure the safety of our children and young people."

Editor's Note: To view the 2004 Archdiocese of Philadelphia Audit Executive Summary, please go to www.archdiocese-phl.org.

Contact
Donna Farrell
Director of Communications
215-587-3747

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