Child protection is ‘not a box-ticking exercise’

The success of US dioceses in implementing child protection procedures should not lead to complacency, the annual report on the implementation of the bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ has warned.

Introducing the report, Francesco C. Cesareo, chairman of the all-lay National Review Board, said this year’s audit results “continue to demonstrate the progress that has been made in ensuring safe environments for children in the Church”.

The bishops “need to be acknowledged for keeping the protection of children and young people in the forefront of their leadership by continually enhancing their efforts to comply with the charter”, he said, while warning that Church progress could foster “a false sense of security” that could lead to complacency and “a minimalist approach” to child protection in which the charter could be approached “as a series of requirements that need to be checked off”.

As an example, he cited how every diocese complies with the charter by having a diocesan review board, in some cases boards had not met in several years.