The 2019 Annual Report on the Implementation of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”

USCCB Child Protection Report

Title: The 2019 Annual Report on the Implementation of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”

Author: prepared by the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection for the National Review Board and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was authorized by the USCCB President, Archbishop José H. Gomez. It has been directed for publication by the undersigned.
Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield General Secretary, USCCB

Publisher: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

Date: June 2020


His Excellency Archbishop José H. Gomez Archbishop of Los Angeles President


The Catholic Church in the United States has confronted the scandal of child sexual abuse by clergy for nearly 20 years. My brother bishops and I want to apologize to all those who have endured abuse at the hands of someone in the Church and we want to express our pastoral commitment to helping every victim-survivor find healing and hope.
From out of the failures of our past, Catholic dioceses across the country have worked hard to put in place policies and programs to protect young people and to create safe environments in our par- ishes, schools and other ministries. Hundreds of thousands of adults throughout the country have been trained in abuse prevention and reporting. Hundreds of thousands more in leadership posi- tions have been fingerprinted or undergone other forms of extensive background checks. Dioceses have also implemented strict reporting requirements, working closely with local law enforcement officials to report abuse allegations and remove accused perpetrators from ministry.
As a result of these efforts, which would not be possible without the advice of courageous abuse sur- vivors, and the commitment of tens of thousands of lay professionals and volunteers, new cases of sexual misconduct by priests involving minors are rare today in the Catholic Church in the United States. That is a key finding of this year’s independent audit on the Church’s abuse prevention efforts. As you will read in the pages that follow, nationwide in 2019, from out of more than 37,000 diocesan and religious order priests, there were 37 allegations involving current year minors, of which 8 were substantiated and the priests were removed from ministry. All of these allegations were reported to law enforcement. Of course, every case is one too many, and we remain vigilant and determined to prevent this evil.
This is the seventeenth annual independent audit of the U.S. bishops’ implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that we adopted in 2002 and have updated several times since then. This year’s report covers 2019, a year that also marked an important new moment in the Church’s ongoing efforts to increase accountability and transparency in our han- dling of allegations of abuse.
In February 2019, Pope Francis convened the first-ever global summit on the protection of minors in the Church. As a follow up to this summit, in May, Pope Francis issued Vos estis lux mundi (“You Are the Light of the World”), setting new rules and procedures to ensure that the world’s bishops and religious superiors are held accountable for allegations made against them for either commit- ting abuse or mishandling abuse claims.
In response to Vos estis, the U.S. bishops in their November 2019 annual meeting affirmed our episcopal commitment to hold ourselves to the highest standards of accountability before God and before the family of God. Among several important new measures, we have implemented a toll- free telephone and online mechanism for reporting allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct involving bishops.
I invite you to study these pages, which include the independent audit of the firm StoneBridge Business Partners, along with a progress report from the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. What this report shows, once more, is that the Church’s commitment to this vital work of safe- guarding our children, youth, and vulnerable adults is working. On behalf of my brother bishops, I would like to extend my gratitude to the many priests, lay staff, volunteers, and consultants for their dedication to this effort.
Again, I want to express the bishops’ deep sorrow for our past failures and the damage that was done to victims and their families. I pray that together, through our continued efforts, we can con- tinue working toward the goal of ending the scourge of child sexual abuse, not only in the Church but in the wider society.
May we all find hope in Jesus Christ, may the Blessed Virgin Mary be a mother to us all, and may God grant us peace.

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