The Office of Child and Youth Protection
In response to the crisis of the sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Catholic Church, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops drafted a landmark document in Dallas, Texas at its 2002 summer assembly. This document, setting forth their agreed upon responsibilities in combating the problem, was entitled the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The charter specifically created the Office of Child and Youth Protection and assigned to it three central tasks:
- To assist each diocese and eparchy (eastern Rite Churches) in implementing "Safe Environment" programs designed to ensure necessary safety and security for all children as they participate in church and religious activities
- To develop an appropriate compliance audit mechanism to assist the Bishops and Eparchs in adhering to the responsibilities set forth in theCharte
- To prepare a public, annual report describing the compliance of each diocese and eparchy to the Charter's provisions
Promise To Protect. Pledge to Heal.
In the Charter, the bishops recommit themselves to victims, survivors and their families, and to each other, in order to ensure --to the best of their abilities -- that sexual abuse of minors within the Church will never happen again.
A comprehensive set of procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, the Charter includes guidelines for reconciliation,
healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse.
The Charter directs action in the following matters:
- Creation of a safe environment for children and young people
- Healing and reconciliation for victims and survivors
- Prompt and effective response to allegations of abuse
- Cooperation with civil authorities
- Disciplining of offenders
- Providing for future accountability by establishing a national Office of
Child and Youth Protection
The Office of Child and Youth Protection...
- delivers education programs to all adults who interact with children in parish, school and diocesan programs;
- verifies that all clergy, employees and volunteers are compliant with ongoing safe environment continuing education;
- ensures that all clergy, employees and volunteers are background screened;
- oversees age-appropriate personal safety education for children in parish, school and diocesan programs;
- receives and investigates reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct;
- refers all suspicions of abuse and neglect to law enforcement;
- coordinates the outreach and services for victims of abuse.