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Response Tactics to Sexual Abuse in Churches

Allegations continue to surface about clergy abuse and the Catholic Church’s systematic attempts to cover it up. Many Catholics have since left the church with their faith in the ministry eroded. However, according to a local Catholic news organization, surveys show that many people are unaware that bishops in U.S. churches have been implementing response tactics to child sexual abuse since 2002.

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

In 2002, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was created to address how U.S. Catholic dioceses and eparchies would respond to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The charter, most recently revised in June 2018, also provides guidelines for healing and reconciliation, effective responses, accountability, and prevention of future abuse.

The Charter states that dioceses and eparchies should reach out to survivors and their families and offer counseling, spiritual assistance, and other social services. It emphasizes the need to show loving concern, patience, and compassion to those who were abused. Article 2 of the Charter states that each diocese should have policies and procedures in place for those making a complaint, and that those policies should be available in printed form and be publicly announced annually.

Effective Responses

Dioceses and eparchies are responsible for reporting allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to the appropriate authorities, cooperate with any investigations, and advise victims of their right to make a report. The Charter states that clergy sexual abuse of a minor is a serious crime in the universal law of the Church and that a single act of sexual abuse of a minor, no matter when it occurred, shall be cause of permanent removal of the offender from the ministry, and if warranted, dismissal from the clerical state.

Accountability

The Charter emphasizes the need to ensure the accountability of its procedures. It states that the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People shall provide advice on all matters related to child and youth protection, as well as oversight of plans, programs, and budget development of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection (SCYP). The SCYP must produce an annual public report detailing the progress that was made regarding implementation and maintenance of the Charter standards. The 2018 report reveals that:

  • More than 650 adults and 24 minors raised charges

  • Dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 1,905 survivors

  • Safe environment training was provided to more than 4.1 million children and 56,000 clergy members

Prevention of Future Abuse

According to the Charter, dioceses and eparchies are responsible for maintaining safe environment programs with cooperation from parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for everyone involved, including minors, parents, ministers, employees, and volunteers. The Charter concludes with the bishops reaffirming their commitment to working toward healing and reconciliation for survivors.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Sexual Abuse Survivors

If you were sexually abused by a clergy member, the New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help. We will fight to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the justice you deserve. For a free and confidential consultation, please submit an online inquiry or call us at 732-537-8570. Based in Highland Park, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout the surrounding areas, including New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

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