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NH AG completes audit of Diocese of Manchester

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte has announced the results of the fourth and final audit of the Diocese of Manchester saying, “I’m pleased to announce in this final audit that there have been significant and dramatic improvements by the diocese since the agreement was signed in December of 2002.”  The many significant improvements cited include the creation of a database tracking criminal background screening, training of all diocesan personnel, the appointment of safe environment coordinators at every parish, school and camp as well as the appointment of a diocesan-wide compliance coordinator.  Having talked to some people who have gone through the process in various capacities it should not be assumed that these are check-the-box activities – having a safe environment has been ingrained in the conscious thought process of everyone I’ve talked to who works for the Church.

Are there still problems?  To be sure – the Church is still manned by fallible people and in particular those who have a greater inclination to try to find a way to not judge another, perhaps at the peril of all involved than your average person might.  I don’t, however, see anyone I’ve talked to willing to take any chances at looking the other way because the raw pain such actions have caused before is far too well known.

I do hope the Diocese submits to regular independent audits because, as the comments section of the Union Leader article linked to above show there are many who simply have no interest in believing that anyone in the Diocese has learned a lesson.  Even should these audits be performed certainly there will be those who ignore any positive results, but that is not a reason to not do them but rather one that should demand they be performed if only to offer every opportunity for people to keep an open mind.  To be worth the effort, the audits must be sufficiently independent and have sufficient cooperation as to make any accusations of impropriety fall to the side.

This should be seen, contra many of the commenters at the above article, as a continuation of an upward swing in the conscious protection of children and the preservation of a safe environment by the Diocese of Manchester.  I believe the progress attained thus far can and will, and indeed must, be continued and even further progress made.  I long for a day when this issue is no longer in the forefront of the minds of so many and when the Church is seen as a paragon of loving concern for each and every person not because it was flogged into it but because of the love of Christ shining forth through it.  I will, as will so very many others, be keeping an eye out to make sure it is only this trajectory which is taken.  To borrow a phrase, “Never Again.”

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