Catholics unaware

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Catholics ~ most unaware of bishops;
& responses to clergy sex abuse

   Only 17 percent of adult Catholics say they are aware of actions their local diocese has taken to prevent the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, according to a report in the latest issue of the newsletter of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
Only 34 percent of adult Catholics say they have heard of policies created for handling allegations of such abuse by the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, according to the summer 2007 issue of The CARA Report.
   The U.S. bishops’ conference commissioned the research center to study Catholics’ awareness of policies and procedures the bishops agreed to in 2002 for handling accusations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and for preventing abuse in the future. These policies have become known as the Dallas Charter.
This year, CARA interviewed 1,048 randomly-selected, self-identified Catholics about changes made by the Dallas Charter. The latest survey was the ninth national poll conducted by CARA and commissioned at least partially by the U.S. bishops to assess awareness of the sexual abuse issue among U.S. Catholics.

Among the findings from the latest survey:

• 45 percent of respondents were aware dioceses are to report an
allegation of sexual abuse of a minor to public authorities and
cooperate with investigations of abuse.

• 43 percent knew anyone credibly accused of abuse is to be removed
from ministry.

• 15 percent knew dioceses must report compliance to the
charter annually.

• 14 percent knew independent audits are conducted in each
diocese to determine whether they are enforcing charter provisions.

• 32 percent of respondents knew dioceses are required to reach out
to victims of sexual abuse and their families with counseling and
social services.

“Although few Catholics are aware of the steps the church as taken, when informed of them, large majorities approve these actions,” the newsletter reported.

• 78 percent strongly approved of reporting allegations of sexual
abuse by clergy to civil authorities and cooperating in civil investigations.

• 76 percent strongly approved of removing from ministry people
credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

-- NCR staff
National Catholic Reporter, August 31, 2007