February 14, 2005
Vicar talks about effects of abuse charges
February 14, 2005 [Herald Star]
STEUBENVILLE - Much has been said in the media and on the street in the past few years concerning the Catholic Church's handling of the sexual abuse charges filed against priests.
On Friday, Monsignor Kurt Kemo, vicar general director of child protection for the Diocese of Steubenville, talked with members of the Steubenville Rotary Club about these allegations and what the church and local Catholic officials are doing to prevent further abuse.
Kemo said the charges brought to light in 2000 forced the church to repent of its past sins and work to make sure they did not happen in the future.
Kemo said that, locally, the diocese has filed more than 18,000 background checks, including those for priests, teachers and other people involved in work with children.
He stressed the importance of families getting involved and educating themselves in the fight against abuse.
"When we had a meeting to discuss ways to prevent child abuse, only five parents showed up. That is disturbing. The abuse by priests was picked up on by the media, but the truth is, abuse is happening in all areas where children are involved, especially in homes with stepparents," said Kemo.
Kemo said he was proud that the Catholic Church in the United States was on the forefront of addressing the sexual abuse battle.
"The church in the United States has shown an absolute intolerance for the abuse, and I am proud to be a part of that," said Kemo.
He said that many precautions are being taken, though no cases have come forward in this area that point to abuse by church workers.
"For example, we now mandate that two adults or persons of authority be present when there are children involved. There has been some backlash for this rule, but we feel it is important to eliminate any scenario where abuse could take place," said Kemo.
Kemo added that in the fight against abuse, citizens must err on the side of caution.
"There is a fine line between discipline and abuse, and when it comes to coaching, there is a fine line between motivation and abuse. If a person in authority sees that line coming close to being crossed, he or she has a responsibility to report it," he said.
Posted by Nancy at February 14, 2005 10:43 AM