May 18, 2011

Bishop Cistone addresses release of John Jay Report

Diocese of Saginaw restates measures which have been taken to protect children and youth

SAGINAW – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced today the release of a major study related to the issue of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

The report, The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002, follows the comprehensive study published in 2004 on the Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002. Both research studies and reports were conducted and provided by the John Jay College for Criminal Justice in New York.

The Nature and Scope report provided information as to what occurred, including the number of abuse incidents, characteristics of the priests involved, and the financial impact, among other factors.

The purpose of the Causes and Context study was “to understand why the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests occurred as it did by integrating research from sociocultural, psychological, situational, and organizational perspectives.”

The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, released the following statement:

“I welcome the release of the John Jay study on ‘Causes and Context.’ It is an important contribution not only to the Catholic Church but to the broader society as well in better understanding the tragic acts of abuse against minors and developing additional ways of protecting children and young people now and in the future.”

“I encourage people to carefully read the report in its entirety. Over the past decade, so much has been said and written about the terrible abuse of minors by members of the Church and of society in general. The John Jay report is unique in its scope and depth, and supports its findings with facts and data gleaned from clinical analysis, historical records, surveys, extensive interviews, as well as contributions made by experts.”

“I realize that each and every time such news and attention is given to this issue, many victims and survivors of sexual abuse relive the painful experience and memories. I express, once again, my sincere sorrow to the victims and survivors for the harm inflicted upon them and to all the members of the Church who suffer because of this evil and criminal behavior. I wish to assure them of my prayers and commitment to protect our children and young people now and in the future.”

The Diocese of Saginaw has programs and safeguards in place to help ensure the safety and well-being of young people. In 2003, in accordance with the mandate of the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and Essential Norms, the Diocese of Saginaw revised its own Policies and Procedures.

The Diocese of Saginaw mandates all church personnel, as well as volunteers who work with children and youth, be subject to a criminal background check, attend VIRTUS training: Protecting God’s Children for Adults, and abide by the diocesan Standards of Ministerial Behavior Policy. Since 2003, more than 7,000 adults in the Diocese of Saginaw have undergone VIRTUS training, had background checks and signed the Standards of Ministerial Behavior Policy.

The Safe Environment Programs assist church personnel and volunteers to better understand the issue of child sexual abuse, how to prevent abuse, and how to report abuse in accordance with state law. In compliance with the Charter and diocesan policies, there are also programs for children and youth which teach them how to protect themselves and report inappropriate behavior. This includes participation in the Child Lures School Program and the Michigan Model for Health Education.

Since 2003, the Diocese of Saginaw has had in place a Victim Assistance Coordinator who seeks to provide pastoral care and outreach to all victims and their families. The Church of Saginaw hopes to provide healing and reconciliation to all those in need.

The Diocese of Saginaw is also assisted by a Review Board that meets regularly and advises the Bishop on policies and procedures for the protection of children. The Review Board is a confidential consultative body that is composed of six members — five lay people who are not employed by the church and one priest — who bring their areas of expertise in the protection of children to discussions and recommendations. The board also advises the Bishop regarding any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy.

Under the direction of the USCCB Office of Child and Youth Protection, each diocese is subject to a yearly audit by an independent firm to ensure compliance with the Charter. Since the audit process began in 2003, the Diocese of Saginaw has been in compliance each year.

Those in need of assistance are urged to call or e-mail the Victim Assistance Coordinator, Janet Fulgenzi, OP, PhD, at (989)797-6682 or For more information about the Diocese of Saginaw’s child and youth protection programs, visit and click on the “Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal” link.

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