CHARLESTON — The Diocese of Charleston has been declared to be in full compliance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The auditor from The Gavin Group notified the diocese verbally on Nov. 16, according to Father Titus Fulcher, director of Child Protection Services for the diocese. The audit took place Nov. 14-16.
“Full compliance indicates that the Diocese of Charleston has proven its commitment to protecting our children from sexual predators,” he said.
Compliance includes handling allegations and processes that are in place, and following 17 articles that deal with such issues as education, background screening, handling of allegations, and pastoral response.
Since January, 2,568 priests, deacons, educators, and diocesan and parochial employees, and 4,492 volunteers who regularly work with children and young people have participated in VIRTUS training. VIRTUS is the program created by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group to help prevent abuse by emphasizing a proactive approach and creating an environment to prevent the possibility of a predator accosting a youth or child. It is designed to help identify patterns of behaviors that predators typically exhibit.
“This assists the good people of our diocese in keeping our children safe,” Father Fulcher said.
Children and young people were also offered VIRTUS training specifically designed for children and their parents.
“Here, the focus was on empowering children to say no to anyone whose behavior violates their dignity, innocence and safety,” Father Fulcher said. According to program attendance, 16,739 children and youth participated in the program out of 19,005 enrolled in South Carolina’s Catholic schools and parish religious education programs. The remaining children were required to receive instruction from their parents, according to the priest.
“The Diocese of Charleston is committed to preventing any instance of sexual abuse of a minor,” Father Fulcher said. “The recent scandals are instructive to all that while only the predator of these sinful acts is guilty, everyone has a role to play in providing a safe environment for our young ones. We have a duty to protect our young people, as parents, as clergy, teachers and volunteers, and above all as Catholic Christians,” he said.
Empowering children to say no, listening to them, paying attention when certain behaviors are suspicious and carefully ensuring that all facilities contribute to the safety of our children is fully concordant with Catholic teaching, and especially the Theology of the Body’s emphasis on the inherent dignity of the human person,” Father Fulcher said. “Our thanks to all the clergy, educators, volunteers and facilitators who worked so hard to ensure that the Diocese of Charleston is a safe haven for our children and that no minor suffers the pain of sexual abuse.”