This June marks twenty years since the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas to draft and pass the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in their commitment to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. Marking this moment, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement:
“This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is not a time of celebration, but a time of continued vigilance and determination.
“In these twenty years, we have greatly benefited from listening to and working with survivors of abuse. We are grateful for their courage in sharing their stories and for helping the Church strive to create a culture of protection and healing. Their witness has led directly to meaningful reform in the Church and to a greater awareness of sexual abuse in the wider world. For past survivors and future children, it is imperative that we remain vigilant.
“Since the passage of the Charter, the Catholic Church in the United States has worked hard to fulfill our pledge to support the healing of those hurt by sexual abuse, along with their families. We have also strived to be faithful to our promise to protect children and young people. Today, millions of children and adults have been trained to spot the signs of abusive behavior, allegations of sexual abuse are reported to local law enforcement, background checks are the norm, review boards comprised of lay experts meet to assess allegations, and victim assistance coordinators are in place to assist survivors in finding help.
“At this two-decade mark, we remain firm with Pope Francis’ commitment, ‘that everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.’
“We entrust our prayers for survivors of abuse, their families, and for those who minister in the Church to our Blessed Mother, who offers her loving protection to all her children. We ask for her intercession as we continue in our work of protecting those close to the heart of her Son, Jesus.”
Editor’s Note: The Diocese of St. Petersburg has been fingerprinting and training employees, volunteers and clergy since 1996. This has been standard practice before the 2002 Dallas Charter came into existence. The Diocese of St. Petersburg fully supports the USSCB in the implementation and ongoing review of the Charter to strength and protect all children and vulnerable adults. If you would like more information please go to the Safe Environment at https://www.dosp.org/safe-environment/.