The crimes against children that were reported by the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury in Pennsylvania are horrendous and inexcusable. We continue to pray for all those who are affected by abuse whenever and wherever it occurred.
This diocese has faced our own failures in protecting children in the past. With a great debt to survivors of abuse who came forward, we now operate much differently, and we have already implemented all of the recommendations of the grand jury.
Any abuse or even inappropriate behavior by church personnel, including clergy, will not be tolerated. Period. As I said at a meeting of clergy and laity when I became bishop of Davenport, “Not on my watch.” Reports of abuse are reported to law enforcement. We abandoned the use of confidentiality agreements a decade ago. We continue to advocate for a change to the Iowa criminal statute of limitations. During the bankruptcy process, a window was created for all victims to come forward to report abuse.
Policies and safe environment programs are in place and are reviewed annually for improvement. These programs have trained over 17,800 adults and children to recognize potential predators and to provide safe environments. In addition, all employees and volunteers who work with children or vulnerable adults must pass a comprehensive background check.
The abuse of children and vulnerable adults isn’t an issue that will simply go away. We must all be constantly vigilant in order to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport