ASSISTANCE IN IMPLEMENTING THE BISHOPS CHARTER

The Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults specifies steps to be followed in each diocese and parish to insure the protection of children and young adults.

The Charter is found at the NCCB website: http://www.usccb.org/bishops/charter.htm
The spanish language version is found at http://www.usccb.org/bishops/chartersp.htm

It should be studied by the Parish Voice.
  • Note in particular the promises made by the bishops in the preamble, especially "We acknowledge our need to be in dialogue with all Catholics, especially victims and parents, around this issue. By these actions, we want to demonstrate to the wider community that we comprehend the gravity of the sexual abuse of minors." -- These principles should be reflected in steps taken in your parish and in the cooperation you receive from the diocese.
  • In the Articles, note the following requirements that may apply to your parish: Article I "Dioceses/eparchies will reach out to victims/survivors and their families and demonstrate a sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being. ... Where such outreach is not already in place and operative, each diocese/eparchy is to develop an outreach to every person who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the Church, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years in the past. This outreach will include provision of counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services agreed upon by the victim and the diocese/eparchy." --Has there been any efforts extended by the diocese to your parish to reach out to victims/survivors?
  • "In cooperation with social service agencies and other churches, support groups for victims/survivors and others affected by abuse should be fostered and encouraged in every diocese/eparchy and in local parish communities." -- Do you have a support group?
  • "ARTICLE 2. Dioceses/eparchies will have mechanisms in place to respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred." -- Are your parishioners familiar with the procedure for reporting allegations of sexual abuse?
  • "ARTICLE 6. While the priestly commitment to the virtue of chastity and the gift of celibacy is well known, there will be clear and well-publicized diocesan/eparchial standards of ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries for clergy and for any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people." -- Have the standards been published in your parish?
  • "ARTICLE 7. Each diocese/eparchy will develop a communications policy that reflects a commitment to transparency and openness. Within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved, dioceses/eparchies will deal as openly as possible with members of the community. This is especially so with regard to assisting and supporting parish communities directly affected by ministerial misconduct involving minors" -- Has your parish been so affected and if so, have you received the support mandated by Article 7?
  • "ARTICLE 12. Dioceses/eparchies will establish "safe environment" programs. They will cooperate with parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children. Dioceses/eparchies will make clear to clergy and all members of the community the standards of conduct for clergy and other persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse."-- Are such programs conducted, and are the standards of conduct promulgated, in your parish?
  • In addressing these issues, do not forget the promise of the bishops in their concluding paragraphs:"In the midst of this terrible crisis of sexual abuse of young people by priests and bishops and how it has been dealt with by bishops, many other issues have been raised. In this Charter we focus specifically on the painful issue at hand. However, in this matter, we do wish to affirm our concern especially with regard to issues related to effective consultation of the laity and the participation of God's people in decision making that affects their well-being."(emphasis added)
The ability of your parish to play a meaningful role in this initative depends in great measure on the compliance of the diocese with the Charter terms. To assist you in judging the diocese's performance, the national VOTF has prepared a check list which you can access and print out at http://www.votf.org/Bishop_Monitoring_Form.pdf