News: Iowa dioceses to comply with IA Attorney General's Request
June 3, 2019
The four bishops of Iowa through the Iowa Catholic Conference issued a response to the Iowa Attorney General's statement. First is the ICC response. Scroll down to see the Diocese of Des Moines response.
From the Iowa Catholic Conference:
Last week the Iowa Attorney General asked the state’s four Catholic dioceses to submit, by Aug. 1, 2019, documents related to clergy sexual abuse so that his office can provide a credible third-party review of the response made to reports.
Each diocese, in the interest of transparency and accountability, plans to comply with the Attorney General’s request. In fact, most of the information requested is already a matter of public record. Also, the efforts of each diocese to protect minors from clergy sexual abuse have for many years now been subject to an annual credible third-party review.
Our compliance is inspired by the teachings of Jesus and his Catholic Church: that it is right and good to respond to the sin and crime of clergy sexual abuse with sorrow, repentance, amendment of life, and efforts to repair the harm done.
In this regard, if there have been failures in the past, it is not for lack of trying. And after discovering when and where our efforts have fallen short, we will try again; there is no perfection this side of heaven.
It is our hope that the Attorney General will use the resources of his office to protect minors from the scourge of sexual abuse wherever it occurs, and not limit his focus just on the Catholic Church.
From the Diocese of Des Moines:
Last Friday, each Catholic bishop in the four dioceses of Iowa received a letter from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller requesting documentation regarding clerical sexual abuse.
The Diocese of Des Moines, along with the Archdiocese of Dubuque and the Dioceses of Sioux City and Davenport, will comply promptly and fully with the Attorney General’s request.
Each of the dioceses is already on record in releasing expansive information regarding perpetrators of sexual abuse and diocesan policies. Those records are on the website of each diocese.
All four bishops have met with the Attorney General, answering all questions he had regarding process and policy. There has not yet been a response by the Attorney General to those meetings.
The Catholic Dioceses of Iowa have gone on record deploring the horrendous crime of sexual abuse and have taken action to address victims and their needs toward healing. The dioceses offer counseling gratis so long as sought by the victim and have worked through a program of mediation in providing monetary settlements.
Victims continue to be the number one concern in each of the dioceses.
The Catholic bishops in the United States in 2002 issued the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the governing norms. Implementation of the norms related to the charter have affected the policies of each dioceses and included the following provisions:
- All allegations of sexual abuse are reported immediately to law enforcement
- If the allegation is substantiated, the church employee is removed from all church employment permanently
- A lay review board advises the bishops in each diocese. In the Diocese of Des Moines, the review board consists of professionals including a chief of police, judge, lawyer, counselor, school teacher, priest, deacon, etc.
The dioceses also provide safe environment training for children and all adults working with them.
In addition, national background checks are made of all staff and volunteers who work with children. The safe environment training and background checks have involved thousands of people.
Compliance with the charter and norms is determined every year by a third party auditor. In the 17 years of the charter, all four Iowa dioceses have been compliant with the charter and its norms.
The Catholic Church in the United States has worked diligently at eliminating the scourge of sexual abuse within its quarters. The Diocese of Des Moines has not had a substantiated report of sexual abuse of a minor by a church employee occurring since 1997 (revised 6/6/2019).
The Catholic Church today is focused on the healing of victims and preventing abuse from occurring.
We hope that the safety of all children is addressed. For their benefit, we expect that the scrutiny applied to the Catholic Church be broadened and applied to organizations that serve children.
The diocese encourages anyone with allegations of abuse by clergy to contact their local police department or diocesan Victim Assistance Advocate Sam Porter, with Polk County Crisis and Advocacy. Mr. Porter serves as a third party advocate. He does not work for the diocese. He can be reached at Sam.Porter@polkcountyiowa.gov or 515-286-2015. He can assist the person with making a complaint, and with receiving support and counseling services.