MARQUETTE - In 2012, the Catholic Diocese of Marquette was again found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was adopted by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 2002 to address the problem of child and youth sexual abuse by clergy.
After participating in a full on-site audit in 2010, the diocese underwent data collection audits in 2011 and 2012. The full on-site visits are required every three years, and another full on-site audit is scheduled for October 2013.
During the audit period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, a total of 2,867 children and youth received training in safe environment awareness in Diocese of Marquette Catholic schools and parishes.
In addition, 206 diocesan, parish and Catholic school employees and volunteers from throughout the U.P. were trained in the prevention of child and youth sexual abuse, bringing the total number of adults trained since 2002 to 3,392. The number of people who took advantage of online training, which was a new option in 2012, is currently unavailable, but it will be tracked.
Since 2010, the Diocese of Marquette has re-checked the backgrounds of every priest, religious, employee and volunteer in the U.P. who underwent the original background checks. The diocese will continue to conduct these rechecks every three years.
The Diocese of Marquette has a Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People that reviews diocesan policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors, assists the bishop in assessing allegations of sexual misconduct against church workers and volunteers, and advises the bishop regarding the clergy's fitness for ministry.
The Diocesan Director of Ministry Personnel, Kevin Branson, said he was pleased that the diocese was found to be compliant with the charter and stated, "We must continue to keep watch and remain focused on providing a safe environment for children and young people in the Church."
He also encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a clergy member, religious, church employee or volunteer to make a complaint to the diocese. "Our first concern is always for the victim/survivor. We want to assist anyone who has been hurt with their journey to healing and peace," Branson explained.
To bring a complaint to the attention of the diocese, call the Victim's Assistance Coordinator, Sister Colleen Sweeting, at (866) 857-6459 (toll-free). If Sister Colleen is unavailable, please call Rev. Francis Dobrzenski, Diocesan Administrator, at (906) 227-9115 / (800) 562-9745, ext. 115.
Those who wish to put their complaint in writing can direct their correspondence to Kevin Branson, Director of Ministry Personnel, Diocese of Marquette, 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855. The letter should be marked "Personal and Confidential" and indicate whether a response is desired by phone, by letter or in a meeting.
The diocese will also help anyone bring their concerns to church officials outside the diocese if the sexual misconduct occurred elsewhere and the person now resides in the Diocese of Marquette. If you are unsure about bringing a complaint or would like further information, please contact Sr. Colleen at the phone number above or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org with "Victim's Assistance Coordinator" in the subject line.
Information regarding the Diocese of Marquette's safe environment program can be found on the diocese's website: www.dioceseofmarquette.org by selecting Protecting Children on the menu bar.
The 2012 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in all U.S. dioceses has been posted on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' web site at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/annual-report-on-the-implementation-of-the-charter-for-the-protection-of-children-and-young-people-2012.pdf.