Local News

Audit: Raleigh Diocese In Compliance With National Charter

Posted January 6, 2004 3:31 a.m. EST

— Are Catholic Churches doing enough to prevent priest sex abuse? A new nationwide report, which includes the Raleigh Diocese, is out.

The Catholic Church sent investigators to 191 dioceses over the past year to make sure they are in compliance with the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" -- a document aimed at preventing, spotting and stopping child sexual abuse in the church.

Investigators found 157 dioceses were in compliance, including Raleigh, but Bishop Joseph Gossman, of the Raleigh Diocese said there is still more work to do.

"Do I think our children are safe? I think we have reason to believe we're trying to make sure that happens," he said. "We have a code of conduct that makes it clear that clergy should not -- unless they're family members -- should not be alone with children just because of the national climate we live in."

The Raleigh Diocese hired John Pendergrass to oversee training at its 76 churches. The goal is to teach people to spot, report and deal with sexual misconduct immediately.

"Keep it front. Keep it center. Keep it on your mind just as you would driver safety in your mind when you're driving," he said.

Gossman said the program will not work if it is not implemented on a church-by-church basis.

"One-by-one, I'd like to tell you there's a magic formula or a potion, but it's one-by-one," he said.

Since 1950, 32 victims in North Carolina have made complaints against 15 members of the clergy. There are currently no investigations in the Raleigh Diocese. There are two investigations under way in the Diocese of Charlotte.

According to the report, 90 percent of the nation's dioceses are in compliance with the plan. Among those considered in violation are archdioceses of Anchorage, Alaska, Omaha, Neb., and New York.