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U.S. Bishop: “We are called to bring forth child and youth protection, not bishop protection”

2015-06-26

The Anglophone Conference on the Safeguarding of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults was recently held in Rome. Participants from throughout the world spent several days discussing how the Church can become safer and rebuild trust with the faithful.

BISHOP EDWARD J. BURNS
Juneau, Alaska (United States)
"We've acknowledged that the sacred has been twisted by evil. That is to say, the sacred lives of innocent children have been abused. We used these days to strategize on how we can improve our work in creating a safe environment in our Church.”

Bishop Edward Burns currently serves as Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. It's a long title, but he has a clear mission.

BISHOP EDWARD BURNS
Juneau, Alaska (United States)
"We're called to assist bishops in any way in creating that safe environment, but our primary mandate is that we protect. We are called to bring forth child and youth protection, not bishop protection. And so it's important for us to stay focused on this mandate of establishing safe environments in our Church.”

In the United States, about two million priests, deacons, religious, and lay people go through sexual abuse detection training. So do five million children.  But Burns says that's not enough.

BISHOP EDWARD BURNS
Juneau, Alaska (United States)
"While it may be large, is it complete? No. Because with adults, we're looking at a, probably 98 percent participation in it. When looking at the children, we're at about 94 percent. While those percentages are high, it's not 100 percent yet.”

While the worst days of the sex abuse crisis may be over, Burns stressed that "it's an ongoing issue” and that his work focuses on continual improvement. Today, the greatest challenge is to ensure that reform's momentum is not lost.


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