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Church report: Children safer from abuse; more work to do
June 13th, 2012
05:03 PM ET

Church report: Children safer from abuse; more work to do

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog co-editor

(CNN) - Children in the Catholic Church are safer 10 years after the church initiated reforms in the wake of the priest abuse scandal, but there is still work to be done, according to a report delivered to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Meeting in Atlanta, the bishops heard from Al Notzon III, the chairman of the National Review Board, on the progress made 10 years after they tasked the lay group with "advising the bishops on the handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy."

Notzon delivered the report to the clergy leaders in a morning session. "There has been striking improvement in the Church’s response to and treatment of victims," the report said. "Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry.”

But Notzon was quick to point out, "much work still needs to be done."

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He said the board worried about complacency with the church, "thinking that 10 years of action is enough and that programs and vigilance can be taken for granted or, worse, watered down."

At their meeting in Dallas in 2002, the bishops implemented the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. It outlines policies and procedures for the church to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and deals with reconciliation, accountability and prevention.

Wednesday's progress report marked a decade since the charter's implementation.

“In the past 10 years, over 15,000 victims have come forward to tell their secret they had carried for years, and each year, more have come forward," Notzon said. "It is impossible to know the final number of victims."

Notzon pointed to findings of the "Scope and Nature" study by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. It was commissioned by the bishops' group after determining the need for an outside group not only to review the scope of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis in the United States but to determine the cause.

Notzon reminded the bishops that the study found "the incidences of abuse began to rise in the '60s, peaked in the '70s and declined sharply in the '80s.”

He said cases that have been reported recently have followed that pattern.

"The peak of the curve is not moving forward or broadening as time moves forward," he said.

He said that over the course of 10 years, the church has learned painful lessons on the best way to handle abuse cases. "We treat those making allegations of sexual abuse with compassionate care. It is not only the best thing to do but the right thing to do and an integral part of the church's spiritual mission."

Notzon also noted that in that area, the church has moved from a legal stance to a pastoral stance.

Dioceses are offering mental health services, healing Masses and retreats for victims, he said.

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“Confidential settlements have been abolished except when requested by the victim,” Notzon said. The new charter abolished quiet private settlements, opting instead for a policy of openness and transparency.

Under the rules of the charter, churches are required to report allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to civil authorities and to inform the victims of their right to report the allegation to civil authorities.

The board also said the church would continue its zero-tolerance policy for abuse and quickly remove priests who were proven to have abused a child. "There is no room in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young," Notzon said.

"Dioceses are still receiving reports of sexual abuse of minors. Most are quickly reported to civil authorities as required by law," he said, but he warned the leaders that they must respond quickly to reports and share information with their congregations for the sake of transparency. "If there's anything that needs to be disclosed to their diocese, it needs to be disclosed now. One can no longer claim, 'I didn't know.' "

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the bishops' conference, praised the report at the conclusion of Notzon's remarks: "It was like an an examination of conscience."

Critics of the church quickly responded to the report.

"In the report on the charter today, time and time again, promises were depicted as facts. Again and again, pledges that have been repeatedly violated were described as realities that are undeniable," said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, outreach director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Sadly, we rarely see a real plan that’s effectively enforced."

Dorris' statement also challenged the notion that the number of abuse cases had dropped off. That was premature speculation, she said. "It always has and likely always will take decades before victims can speak up."

Notzon seemed to agree with that premise as well when he told the bishops that while strides have been made, "The work is not finished and may never be."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Hypatia

    Anyone who buys this bull should look into bridge property in Arizona.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  2. Everett Wallace

    children are safer from the church

    June 17, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  3. Save the children

    Castrate all priests.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things*

    June 16, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Jesus

      *Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  5. Which God??

    I call BS on your spewing of false truths. Prayer hasn't stopped one war. Healed the lame , cured cancer, or any child with a deformity or disease. Prayers haven't been answered for the people suffering from sever drought conditions, or suffering from the raging fires that burn out of control. Many people have beseeched this omni-potent sky-flakeyfaiy, and Not One Fooking Thing Happens. STFU, Moron.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • yamnnjr

      Prove it. Prove that God has never healed cancer or any of those other things you're talking about. There are many unexplained stories.

      And whether prayer has stopped war, well, that's like saying that Bush didn't stop Iraq from causing a larger war when they became nuclear or that nuclear weapons didn't actually suppress a rise to WWIII.

      it's something that can never be proven either way because the Communist nations never started a war and are now too economically weak to actually start one anytime soon, and Iraq is no longer a threat.

      If prayer averted a war, we'll never know it because God stopped it from building up to a war in the first place. You see, God has nothing to prove to those who do not want to believe in Him because if He did prove Himself to such people, since they don't want to believe in Him anyway, they will find a way to dissuade themselves and others just like they do now, and it would be much worse for them when judgement day came. It's better for a man to live in ignorance than for him to learn of God and still reject Him.

      Also, the Jews fought a six day war against the entire might of the rest of the middle east. The war wasn't averted, but it sure ended oddly. And before you rebuttal about how Jews had better technology because of their alliance with the U.S. remember how we struggled just to fight against Iraq in the middle east. Yeah, we were struggling to win that war, struggling to get supplies out to our troops. Yet Israel fought against, not just Iraq, but just about everyone, and won in 6 days.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • yamnnjr

      That 6 days war is part of the reason why a lot of end-times biblical scholars speculate if the current mass return of the Jews to their homeland wasn't a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that wouldn't be undone by the rest of the middle east that attempted to re-oust the Jews from the middle east.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  6. catholic engineer

    I was raised in the shadow of a Benedictine monastery in the 1960's. I was in cars, rectories, swimming pools, sacristies, with many priests and brothers. Not once was I ever approached in any appropriate way by any of them. But no surprise here. One percent (1%) of clerics are responsible for (80%) of pedo cases. It must be exhausting for the media and its sheep to get so much mileage out of such numbers.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      how do you know it is only 1%?

      June 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • chief

      re cath reengineer- your own people say over 4% .... where did you get your math or statistics degree ? notre dame? HA
      take your arguement to the over 10,000 people that have filed cases in the states..... or to the people who have been bought off by the catholic church to the turn of over 3 BILLION dollars.... cram it, your an accomplice

      June 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  7. Hypatia

    And anyone who believes a word of this 'report' need mental help.

    June 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  8. why pretend?

    CNN- if you really cared about child abuse then do something to prevent it.
    Do you really care about this issue or are you into sensationalism?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • chief

      re why pretend.... they are doing something.... they are reporting it..... unlike all the catholics who deny, deflect, or defend the priests, the more people that know the better it might be..... and what the hell are they supposed to do?

      June 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changeth things

    June 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just go to http://santorum.com to find out more.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat, pale, weak, and sedentary.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • filth given

      truth need not respond

      June 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • rodygirl70

      Prayer makes your penis shrink

      July 6, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just go to http://santorum.com to find out more.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat, pale, weak, and sedentary.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • truth given

      filth responds

      June 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  12. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    June 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • .

      Click the report abuse link to get rid of this troll. Hopefully soon they'll block their IP address from posting.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Goddidit

      your experiences don't matter to atheists as its not proof of anything.

      Or so they claim

      June 14, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • bob

      Egoism is the fact that you believe that there is an all knowing, all powerful deity who is willing to take the time out of her/his/its schedule in order to fulfill your puny, insignificant little wish. THAT is the pinnacle of arrogance and egoism. So try again.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.