Catholic Priests to Converge for Sex Abuse Education

By Mark Guydish
The Charleston Gazette [Charleston WV]
Downloaded March 25, 2003

LAFLIN - Nearly every Roman Catholic priest from 11 counties is expected to come to this little borough today to receive mandatory sexual abuse education and prevention training.

It's the first step in an exhaustive process that "will literally involve thousands and thousands of people" in the Diocese of Scranton, said spokeswoman Maria Orzel.

The diocese has adopted the Virtus program, designed by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc., a nonprofit corporation based in Illinois that provides services to roughly one-third of U.S. dioceses.

Orzel said the first step is a three-hour training session for all clergy - about 260 men, including Bishop James Timlin - today at St. Maria Goretti Parish Center.

Sometime in May, another session will be held for 30 to 60 people who will become trainers and travel throughout the diocese.

"It will be an ongoing program," Orzel said, "It will be for priests, sisters, teachers, volunteers, coaches, adults, parents - anyone who comes into contact with children."

After the initial session, participants must take part in monthly training via the Internet. The program is repeated every three years.

Orzel said the diocese is paying for the training. She wouldn't reveal how much, but said, "It is costly."

The program will fulfill a requirement issued last summer by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As part of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," all dioceses in the country must establish an education and training program to "provide a safe environment for children."

Timlin appointed Ellen Dormody of Elmhurst to coordinate the program. Dormody is the diocesan director of pastoral planning.

Mark Guydish, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7161.


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