WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released their 2021 Annual Report. The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nationwide. A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is also included as a part of the report.
This is the 19th such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive set of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and made a promise to protect and a pledge to heal.
The 2021 report for audit year July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, states that 2,930 victim survivors came forward with 3,103 allegations. The number of allegations is 1,149 less than that reported in 2020. This decrease is due in large part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies. Of the allegations received, 2,284 (74%) were first brought to the attention of the diocesan/eparchial representative by an attorney.
During this audit year, 30 allegations were made by current minors, six of which were substantiated, nine are still under investigation, nine were unsubstantiated, five were unable to be proven, and one was referred to the provincial of a religious order.
During the audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 285 victim survivors and their families who reported during the audit period. Continued support was provided to 1,737 victim survivors who had reported in prior audit periods.
The report notes the ongoing work of the Church in continuing the call to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2021, the church conducted 1,964,656 background checks on clergy, employees, and volunteers. In addition, in 2021, over 2 million adults and over 2.4 million children and youth were trained in how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.
Despite restrictions experienced due to the pandemic, elements included in the Charter audit process conducted by Stonebridge Business Partners, were not altered:
- 70 dioceses/eparchies were visited either in-person or via remote technology and data collected from 122 others.
- There were four instances of non-compliance: the Diocese of Corpus Christi, the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana, the Diocese of New Ulm, and the Eparchy of Newton were found non-compliant with Article 2 of the Charter due to inactivity of their Review Boards. Subsequent convening of the respective Review Boards brought each into compliance with Article 2 of the Charter.
- Three eparchies and one diocese did not participate in the audit: the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy, and the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.
The full annual report, and all previously published annual reports, may be found on the secretariat’s website, along with the full text of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, along with additional information and resources on diocesan requirements for the protection of children and young people.