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USA    BOSTON DIOCESE CHECKING STAFF WHO WORK WITH CHILDREN
The fourth largest Catholic diocese in the US is requiring staff members and volunteers to undergo criminal background checks in a policy that eventually will extend to priests.
    The Boston archdiocese is requiring workers who may be alone with children or have contact with the disabled and the elderly to supply information including date of birth and Social Security number. The archdiocese will check that information against state records to see if the person has been arraigned for any crime.
    The requirement will eventually be extended to priests, said John Walsh, a spokesman for the archdiocese. He did not offer a timeline.
    Similar efforts are under way elsewhere across the country, said Sr Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. The conference hasn't systematically tracked such policies, she added.
    Many other Massachusetts religious organisations already are performing background checks on Sunday school teachers and others who come in contact with children, said Barry LaCroix, executive director of the state Criminal History Systems Board.
   
AP
   
22 Sep 00



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