For the 19th consecutive year, independent auditors have found the Diocese of Allentown in full compliance with national guidelines designed to protect children from abuse.
The Charter for Protection of Children and Young People was adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. Among other things, it calls for annual audits to ensure that dioceses are meeting its strict requirements.
Auditors from StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, recently completed their inspection of the Diocese’s actions, procedures, policies, and records.
The Diocese of Allentown uses vigilance, education, and prevention, coupled with swift and decisive action in the event of an allegation, to prevent abuse and keep children safe.
Under its Zero-Tolerance Policy, in the event of an allegation of abuse, the Diocese notifies law enforcement, removes the priest from ministry, and addresses the issue transparently in cooperation with law enforcement.
Rigorous background checks are required for clergy, lay personnel, and volunteers in parishes and ministries. The Diocese also has significantly enhanced the screening for aspiring priests, both before they enter the seminary and during their studies.
A Victim Assistance Coordinator assists victims and survivors of abuse with compassion, respect, and dignity. The Diocese has reached out pastorally and professionally, not only to victims and survivors, but also to their families.
An Independent Review Board of highly qualified lay professionals advises Bishop Alfred Schlert on matters of sexual abuse of minors.
Safe Environment Coordinators at every school and parish oversee compliance with the many programs designed to create the safest environment for minors.
Protecting God’s Children training has been provided to thousands of volunteers, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious, employees, school principals, teachers, and others. This training explains how to recognize and prevent child abuse. Mandated Reporter Training is required for anyone who comes in contact with children and young people.
“These guidelines were adopted 19 years ago, and in each of those years since then, we have been found to be in full compliance,” said Ms. Pamela J. Russo, secretary for Catholic Health and Human Services and Youth Protection.
“Our long record of compliance with these guidelines is a testament to the ongoing commitment in the Diocese of Allentown and its parishes and schools to create a safe environment for all,” she said.