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.
It should be studied by the Parish Voice.
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
- 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
- "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 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)