And no background checks were done. No fingerprints were taken. Why would they be? Everyone knew each other in the parish.
The Diocese of Orange is being criticized for not fingerprinting with the DOJ every volunteer who comes in contact with children at the local churches. The reason these people are not is simple - they do not have a legal status here, so they cannot meet the identification requirements to have their fingerprints taken. Instead, according to Bishop Jaime Soto, the Church uses sworn affidavits and character references for these people.
This is not a post about illegal immigration. But this is a post about looking for scandal where none exists. The people Bishop Soto is talking about are not priests, teachers, counselors, etc. Those persons do undergo extensive background checks and fingerprinting. Instead, we are talking about:
As many as 1,000 volunteers working with children in the Catholic Diocese of Orange have had only provisional background checks because the Department of Justice won't fingerprint them without U.S. governmentissued photo identification. The volunteers - many of them immigrant mothers and grandmothers - work about 90 minutes weekly helping in religious education classes.
I work with Children's Liturgy at my church. Myself, and at least three other adult volunteers (including some parents), take the children from the Church during the Liturgy of the Word over to the parish hall, where we provide the children with Scriptural readings in simpler language and a homily geared towards the kids.
I have never been fingerprinted for this purpose. No one in the parish has done a background check on me. If they do, they will find out that I am an attorney in good standing with the California State Bar, I passed background checks in the past to do work with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) with children, I once held a security clearance with the US Army and was honorably discharged from there long ago, I have an excellent credit score, and I like meatloaf. At least three of my colleagues in this ministry are members of the Order of Secular Franciscans, so I suppose they may be suspect, but I don't know.
The protection of children is very important. But while there has been scandal in the Church, not every Catholic should be suspect and the circumstances do not always warrant this type of scrutiny. On any given Sunday, our school is filled with kids undergoing RCIA in both English and Spanish, with a multitude of adult volunteers in the building. Like many of your parishes, the volunteer work is done by the same people, that 10% who find the time to join committees, teach classes, hook up lights for the annual church carnival, man the bake sales, etc. We know them. Many of them were children in the parish and now their kids are the ones running around after Mass while the adults have coffee and pan dulce. Let's not lose sight of common sense and good reason.