The Archdiocese of Omaha announced this week that an audit had found the archdiocese to be in compliance with U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church personnel.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spelled out the policies in its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter. The charter has called for annual audits of dioceses since the bishops adopted it in 2002.
The Archdiocese of Omaha issued a press release Monday that said the 2018-19 audit had found that the archdiocese’s “child protection policies and procedures are in compliance with the comprehensive action plan adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002.”
It marks the 16th consecutive year that an audit found the Omaha Archdiocese in compliance with the charter. The release said Omaha Archbishop George J. Lucas believes the audit finding “reflects the commitment of all in the Catholic community to keep people safe.”
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The audit was conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners, a private auditing firm based in New York, under contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Auditors checked archdiocese documents to evaluate such things as the archdiocese’s “efforts to satisfy requirements relating to effective reporting and responses to allegations of sexual abuse,” and whether clergy, teachers, volunteers and other people who work with children had been screened by background checks and received safe environment training, the archdiocese said.
The audit covered the period from July 2018 to July 2019.
It did not take issue with the archbishop’s controversial posting of the Rev. Francis Nigli at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in west Omaha. Lucas removed Nigli from St. Wenceslaus in 2018 after a 21-year-old man accused Nigli of kissing and groping him, but parishioners weren’t told the reason Nigli was dismissed. No charges were filed. Nor had parishioners, including a couple who complained that they suspected Nigli was grooming their middle school son, been told that the priest had been accused of a similar transgression with an 18-year-old in O’Neill, Nebraska, before he was posted at St. Wenceslaus.
Lucas removed Nigli from ministry after the incident with the 21-year-old. While the archdiocese said the victims weren’t children and said the events had not violated the Dallas Charter, Lucas apologized to St. Wenceslaus parishioners and told them that he had been wrong to assign Nigli to the parish.
In February 2019, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson issued subpoenas to the Omaha Archdiocese and Nebraska’s other two dioceses for their records of child sexual abuse over the past 40 years. The dioceses provided records.
Asked Monday where that inquiry stands, a spokeswoman for Peterson said “it is an ongoing investigation.”
Secrets are now coming to light. Secrets about abuse and cover-up tucked into those manila folders, secrets squeezed onto those shelves, secrets locked behind that vault door inside a building from 1970 that itself is rather hidden behind a row of trees off 62nd and Dodge Streets.