One diocese’s story of protecting against abuse

The Diocese of Northwestern PA has recently had the difficult experience of having the sexual abuse caused by a former bishop come to light. The present bishop, Sean Rowe, has been working ever since to try to heal the wounds and to make sure that nothing like it will ever happen again.

“Revelation of the abuse came after work had already begun on the new guidelines, Rowe said. They were adopted in 2010 and, after congregations found some things to be unclear, received a final set of revisions in 2011. Rowe said churches are to implement the policies over the course of a year.

He said changes were made in how abuse is reported, including a new anonymous option.

“There are numerous ways to report suspected abuse,” he said.

The policies also are now clear about who needs background checks and clearances, the bishop said. The policies require such screening for church personnel who regularly work with or around children or youth. The screening is slightly less stringent for personnel who occasionally work around children or youth. The definition of personnel includes clergy, paid employees and volunteers.”

The local Erie paper has a long and very well done article on the specifics of the experience and the diocesan response to prevent such sexual abuse from occurring again. Many of the steps that are being taken are being duplicated around the country.

(This might be a useful article to bookmark and/or print out in case you need to make a case that more needs to be done in your local congregation or diocese.)

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