LI diocese: Now in full compliance with sex abuse rules

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The Diocese of Rockville Centre is now in full compliance with nationwide Roman Catholic Church regulations aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse, following its failure last year when it was audited on those rules.

The rules were implemented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after the priest sex abuse scandal broke in 2002. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People seeks to avoid further abuse through mechanisms such as background checks on church workers and volunteers, and mandatory reporting of suspected abuse to civil authorities.

Last year an audit found that, while the diocese passed virtually every aspect of the 13-article audit, it failed in one part of one article. Of five parishes audited, one did not take sufficient action to train church volunteers in "safe environments" - or at least did not produce proper documentation showing it did so, church officials said.

That problem has been cleared up, according to the latest audit, conducted by The Gavin Group, an outside organization that audits dioceses throughout the country.

"We are working every day to make sure that children and young people are safe in our schools, parishes and agencies," said Eileen F. Puglisi, director of the diocese's Office for the Protection of Children and Young People.

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But Tim Eschausse, Long Island coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said, "When the bishops make up their own policies and procedures there seems little to brag about when they have met 'their standards.' Perhaps if Bishop [William] Murphy would finally meet with all the victims of clergy abuse, we could help him write better 'policies.' "

Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the diocese, responded by saying, "The Catholic Church has taken more steps to prevent sex abuse of children than any other private organization out there. It shows he [Eschausse] has no grasp of the facts, because Bishop Murphy does meet with victims of abuse."

Some 84,000 people in the diocese including bishops, priests, deacons and lay people, have completed "Virtus" training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse and instruct them on how to act to keep children safe, the diocese said in a statement.

The diocese also said it runs programs such as "Keeping Fuzzie Safe" to help children know how to identify and handle threatening situations.

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