Clergy changes: New assignments of priests in parishes throughout the Diocese of Madison effective June 30, 2004 are announced this week.
Updated on sexual abuse prevention program
MADISON -- Priests were updated on implementation of the diocesan sexual abuse prevention program at the recent meeting of the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Madison.
Providing the update were Kate Wiskus, diocesan coordinator; John Miller, human resources
director for the diocese; and Kevin Phelan, new chancellor for the diocese.
Bishop Robert C. Morlino introduced Phelan, noting his background in business and conflict management. The bishop said Phelan had experience in the Diocese of Helena in implementing the U.S. Bishops' Charter and Norms dealing with sexual abuse.
Wiskus said the Diocese of Madison contracted with the VIRTUS program to "provide awareness of child abuse and help parishes create and maintain safe environments."
So far, she said over 2,000 individuals have gone through awareness training and about
300 persons have been trained as facilitators. The facilitators can help put on training sessions for staff members and volunteers.
"We've encouraged all parish staff to be trained," said Wiskus.
Priests expressed support for the program. "People have been very complimentary and feel it's very, very good," said Msgr. Jim Gunn, Waunakee.
Miller discussed the background check procedure. Background checks will be done at the
diocesan office, but he said there should be someone who coordinates the checks at the parish level.
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Miller said there has been some concern about old incidents surfacing in background checks. "I will look at all of them in terms of relevancy and approval will come back
to the parish," he said, noting that the background checks themselves will not be seen by people at the parish.
Phelan said that background checks must be done on any paid employee of the diocese or
parishes in active ministry as well as any volunteer who works regularly with children.
He said pastors will have the discretion and the responsibility to give the diocese the names for the checks. "Please be thorough," said Phelan. "We want to be focused on protecting every kid in the diocese."
Phelan said he will ensure that clear communication on background checks will be sent to
priests. Bishop Morlino observed that the Diocese of Madison has a very good record. "But it shouldn't lead us to be less careful. You're doing something right. Let's keep it up."
Fr. Gary Krahenbuhl, Beloit, reported that a draft statement on the rights and responsibilities of priests accused of sexual misconduct has been prepared by the council's Priestly Life Committee. Full story ...