SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – After abuse allegations dating back decades came to light within the Roman Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to resolve more than $100 million in abuse claims. Now, an audit of reporting policies reveals the current culture of the church’s schools and parishes.
The independent audit comes as part of the bankruptcy settlement. Under the agreement, the Archdiocese – which covers over 200 active missions and is connected to schools like St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque – agreed to let a third party review policies related to abuse reporting.
“The Archdiocese maintains robust policies condemning the abuse of children and its efforts toward increased transparency are evident both on its website and in its numerous publications regarding child protection,” the audit says. “The reporting procedures, however, are not as clear.”
“Personnel at [Archdiocese of Santa Fe] schools expressed confusion about the investigation process once reports are made and uncertainty about the nature and timing of parental involvement,” the audit says.
The Reverend Glennon Jones, vicar general for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, says the outcome of the audit is “positive.” But says the church will continue to improve.
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues efforts toward ever-greater vigilance among staff and parishioners to ensure safety of both children and adults,” Jones told KRQE News 13.
The audit, conducted by the law firm Conklin, Woodcock & Ziegler, interviewed people in various roles at the Archdiocese. The interviews ranged from former and current students in Archdiocese schools to teachers and principals within the schools. The auditors also spoke with parishioners, volunteers, and church leaders.
The audit reveals that many people feel the Archdiocese is “making sincere efforts to address child abuse.” But some felt “a general concern that reporting abuse to the
Archdiocese would result in it being ‘swept under the rug’.”
In particular, Native Americans who participated in the audit tended to say they’d report abuse to the police, but not the church due to a lack of trust. The auditors recommended the Archdiocese designate representatives from different cultures to help respond to abuse reports.
Auditors also made several other suggestions. For example, the auditors say the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Catholic Schools Policy Manual contains wording that allows children to be alone with an adult, though it’s likely not intended to be read that way. Auditors recommend that policy is re-worded to ensure it’s clear that adults are prohibited from being alone with a child.