Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Evansville diocese workers undergoing background checks

The Associated Press

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Criminal background checks are being conducted on all workers at the offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Evansville in what the bishop says is a step toward ensuring the safety of church members.

The checks are in response to the sex scandals that rocked the church last year, after which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops mandated better protection of children and youth, Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger said.

The employees consented to the checks and filled out the necessary paperwork earlier this month.

"This is a proactive thing, as opposed to being reactive," Gettelfinger said. "We're looking to be able to say to our people that the people working for us are free of any allegations of any kind."

Other steps in the diocese's effort will include more education about noticing and dealing with unsafe situations, and public meetings discussing how to handle future situations, Gettelfinger said.

Results from the background checks are expected in December, after which church officials will handle any problems found in employee backgrounds.

"Those will be dealt with, one by one," Gettelfinger said. "If it's something where they've been shown to be fraudulent, then obviously, they can no longer work for us."

The Evansville diocese includes about 70 parishes in all or parts of 12 southwestern Indiana counties.

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