November 6, 2018 // National

Diocese maintains compliance with charter

FORT WAYNE — The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has been found compliant with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, according to StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent auditing firm.

While it is not new for the diocese to be found compliant, recent news events validate how important the work of protecting children from abuse remains. The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend stands firm in its commitment to the care and protection of children from the evil of sexual abuse.

The diocese has undergone a yearly audit of its implementation of the directives in the charter 15 times, and has been found compliant every time. StoneBridge has conducted the last nine audits, including this most recent one. For the past year, the review was accomplished by data collection and document review. Next year, the auditors will make an onsite visit to review documents and interview key staff members in roles guiding the effort. An onsite visit is conducted every three years.

For the data collection audit this past year, the diocese submitted information on all allegations of abuse made during the year, reporting on the care provided to the victim-survivor as well as the outcome or finding of the allegation, without providing the names of victims. Care for the victims is one important component of the charter. The diocese pledges to provide healing and pastoral care to anyone abused by clergy.

The other critical task is the prevention of future abuse. The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend addresses that task through what is commonly known as the Safe Environment Program. In the audit, the diocese submits a report regarding all adults who are required to undergo background checks prior to contact with children, the Safe Environment training given to those adults, and the personal safety (Safe Environment) training given to children. Every person who is required to participate in one of these initiatives must be accounted for in the audit. Adults who are required to complete the program are all priests, deacons, candidates for ordination, employees of the diocese and those volunteers who will have regular contact with children as a part of their service.

While preparation for the audit takes significant effort and energy, it is important to do. The requirement of an audit keeps a focus on this crucial work and the need to stay attentive to it.

In addition to audit compliance work, the Safe Environment Program is always seeking to improve and update its training and screening so that they stay effective.

Recently, the adult Safe Environment training program was revised. The revision incorporates new content and ongoing refreshers to better prepare adults to create and maintain safe environments in which children can learn and grow in faith.

The Catholic Church has learned much about safe environments and child protection through ongoing research and lived experience since the crisis. In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the Safe Environment program began in 2002. It is ideal that current and essential information be shared with adults so they are well-prepared for ministering to children, and examples of recent research and learning that have been incorporated into the training resources include training in boundaries, social media use with minors, the grooming process used by abusers and the role of pornography in child abuse. In addition to the revised adult training, the Safe Environment Program will also introduce a new training module for high school students that will include social media and internet use, grooming behavior of predators, healthy relationships and dating, and the implications of becoming a legal adult at age 18.

For more information contact Mary Glowaski, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese at [email protected]
or 260-399-1458 or Cathie Cicchiello, Safe Environment coordinator for the diocese at [email protected] or 260-422-4611 x3308. Diocesan Youth Protection website:

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