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 | USCCB Public Affairs

U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection Releases Annual Report

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released the 2023 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm headquartered in Rochester, New York, which provides forensic, internal, and compliance audit services to leading organizations nationwide. A survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) regarding allegations of abuse of minors and costs is also included as a part of the report.

This is the twenty-first such report since 2002 when the U.S. bishops established and adopted theCharter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive framework of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and establish protocols to protect children and young people.

The 2023 report covers July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023, states that 1,254 victim survivors came forward with 1,308 allegations. This is a decrease of 1,396 allegations reported in the previous audit year, due in part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs and bankruptcies. Allegations involving current minors account for 17 reports. All other allegations were made by adults alleging events that occurred when they were minors. The most frequent method of reporting an allegation was through an attorney which represented 877 (67%) allegations, followed by self-disclosed reporting at 313 (23%). Other methods of reporting totaling 118 reports were made by a spouse, relative or other representative.  

During the audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 183 victim survivors and their families, and continued support was provided to 1,662 victim survivors who had reported in prior audit periods. The report notes the ongoing work of the Catholic Church in ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable adults. In 2023, the Church conducted 2,145,719 background checks on clergy, employees, and volunteers. Additionally, in 2023, over 2.1 million adults and over 2.8 million children and youth were trained in how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs. 

For the 2023 audit year, 100% of dioceses and eparchies participated in the audit process. StoneBridge physically visited 48 dioceses/eparchies and utilized remote technologies to perform 17 additional remote visits to dioceses/eparchies, for a total of 65 on-site audit visits (“on-site audits”) and collected data (“data collection process”) from 131 others. Of the 65 dioceses/eparchies that participated in the on-site audits, there were four findings of non-compliance with certain aspects of the Charter. Compliance with the Charter was determined based on implementation efforts from the date of the last audit visit through 2023. On-site audits took place in the months of February through December 2023.

CARA completed data collection for the fiscal year 2023 annual survey in January 2024. All but two of the 196 dioceses and eparchies completed the survey, for a response rate of 99%. The findings indicate that during this period, seven accused clerics were permanently removed from ministry or retired (5%); of the alleged offenders 91% were already deceased, permanently removed from ministry, or laicized. No credibly accused clerics are reported to be in active ministry.

Costs related to allegations increased by 99%. Two dioceses account for 56% of allegation related expenses. Fifty dioceses and eparchies reported no expenses related to allegations. Settlements to victims account for 73% of those expenses and attorney fees account for 19%.

For the 2023 audit period, there are four findings of non-compliance with certain aspects of the Charter. St. Mary Queen of Peace Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy in U.S.A. and Canada, the Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle U.S.A., and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, were all found non-compliant with Article 2 (review boards) of the Charter. St. Mary Queen of Peace Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy in U.S.A. and Canada and the Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago were also found non-compliant with Article 12 due to lack of safe environment training for minors. Subsequent to the audit period, all four dioceses and eparchies took action to resolve the issues identified by the auditors.

The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and the National Review Board continue to emphasize that the audit and continued application of zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church’s broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter. 

This most recent annual report, and all previously published annual reports, may be found on the USCCB website Additional information on diocesan requirements for the protection of children and young people may be found here.