Malone Asks Diocesan Workers to Sign Sex Abuse Affidavits

Article excerpt

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Bishop James W. Malone of Youngstown has directed all diocesan employees and regular volunteers to sign affidavits certifying that they have never been involved in any kind of child abuse.

The new policy, which took effect March 10, affects some 1,600 employees -- clergy, religious and lay -- and about 2,500 regular volunteers in the Youngstown diocese. The policy also mandates thorough background checks and screening of applicants and regular volunteers and asks that the curricula in all Catholic schools and religious education programs include components on child abuse.

"The policy is not, at its heart, about laws, rules and regulations," said Malone in a letter read at all Masses in the diocese March 12 and 13. "It is about people -- members of the body of Christ. As such, the healing and caring presence of Jesus must be brought by us to all victims of child abuse," he added. "Similarly, the justice of the gospel must be assured to those same children, their parents or guardians, and to those themselves responsible for the abuse."

The 32-page policy was prepared by members and consultors of an Ad Hoc Committee to Develop a Policy on Child Abuse, appointed by Malone late last summer. The committee and its consultors were made up of legal, psychological, social services and educational professionals, as well as a cross-section of minorities, women, parents and clerical personnel.

"The purpose of this policy is to protect children in our diocese from potential abusers," Malone said in his letter. …