Diocese of Springfield Independent Task Force accepts two new co-chairs

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Two new co-chairs have joined the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield.

Task force members Irene Woods, a licensed independent clinical social worker with a master of social work degree, and Orlando Isaza, who also has a master of social work degree, have been accepted by Bishop William Byrne.

In approving this recommendation, Bishop Byrne said, “I deeply appreciate the diligent work of all members of the task force and especially recognize the leadership roles being played by Ms. Woods and Mr. Isaza.”

The task force is expected to make their report public by the end of summer. The task force is in charged with providing recommendations to improve how the diocese responds, investigates, and handles allegations of sexual abuse. They also focus on identifying the actions and resources needed to promote the healing of survivors and the faith community.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Diocese of Springfield, the task force has reviewed and summarized the input gained from the focus groups of survivors conducted by Stop-It-Now; analyzed the 492 surveys completed by members of the community; and collated the information collected from interviews with diocesan clergy. 

Woods said that “the work of the task force has been made possible by the generous support of all the stakeholders. We are grateful for their participation.  Be assured that what we have learned from all those impacted by this issue will be reflected in our final report and their insights and recommendations have informed the strategic objectives we will propose.”

“The task force is currently finalizing the strategic initiatives and measurable objectives that will guide the work of the Diocese of Springfield going forward,” Isaza said. “The goal is to achieve significant improvements in keeping all its members safe and to prevent future sexual abuse.”

The task force will advise Bishop Byrne on specific steps for improvement in the following areas:

  1. Acknowledging the trauma of sexual abuse on members of our community and ensuring the allocation of resources needed to promote healing of survivors
  2. Responding to all allegations of sexual abuse in our church community in a timely, compassionate and fair way
  3. Ensuring the diocese has a transparent system of protocols and procedures that guarantee respect and due process for all involved
  4. Ensuring that local church leadership is held responsible and accountable for failing to protect children and other vulnerable persons
  5. Holding those who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse responsible and accountable
  6. Preventing sexual abuse of anyone in our faith communities in the future

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