Anchorage Archdiocese on track fighting abuse
By Associated Press, Thursday, August 21, 2003
The Archdiocese of Anchorage has done a good job of reaching
out to victims of sexual abuse but needs to work harder to
ensure that youths feel safe in the church, according to preliminary
findings of an audit this month.
Auditors are visiting dioceses nationwide to ensure church
officials are implementing sexual abuse policies.
Archbishop Roger Schwietz said Wednesday that auditors met
with him last week after a review of the archdiocese's policies,
practices and procedures and gave him their preliminary recommendations.
Auditors recommended the archdiocese start programs to train
people working with youths about sexual abuse, professional
boundaries and how to recognize symptoms of abuse, Schwietz
said. Auditors also told him the archdiocese needs to revise
its written policy on issues of sexual abuse.
The archdiocese also needs to run background checks on everyone
who has volunteered or done youth work in the past, not just
for new hires, auditors said.
They commended Schwietz for personally going to parishes
to talk about sexual abuse issues, he said. They also approved
of a commission investigating internal documents for past
claims of abuse, the appointment of a victim's assistance
coordinator and the use of a local rape crisis center to help
Schwietz said none of the recommendations came as a surprise.
"It was an affirmation of what we needed to do,"
he said. "We wanted to hear from the auditors to see
if we were on track with what we thought the charter demanded
Schwietz said he plans to hire someone this fall to help
the archdiocese implement the recommendations.
The final audit is expected to be completed in six to eight