This June marks twenty years since the U.S. bishops gathered in Dallas, Texas to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. At their 2002 meeting, the bishops drafted and passed the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., of Kansas City-St. Joseph, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People issued the following statement in acknowledgement of the Church’s continued commitment to vigilance in protecting children and the vulnerable:
“It was two decades ago that the U.S. bishops gathered in Dallas to draft a comprehensive set of child protection standards that became the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which each diocese and eparchy is now committed to following. Since the implementation of the Charter, the USCCB has been a resource for the creation and implementation of child protection policies and safe environment programs that are enforced at the local level.
“Dioceses and eparchies have faced evolutionary shifts and changes during these past twenty years since the passage of the Charter, and we are grateful to the Holy See for the multiple measures they have taken to address the issue of sexual abuse and bishop accountability for the global Catholic Church. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has tried to set an example by pushing for greater accountability, transparency, and honesty on handling clergy sexual abuse.
“The USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People along with the National Review Board have provided vital guidance and insight for the dioceses and eparchies through educational opportunities, resource libraries, and policy consultation. I am most grateful for the engagement of survivors who have shared their painful experiences with us and have allowed us to walk with them in their journey towards healing as we strive to create a culture of protection and healing, and continuous improvement.
“I invite you to pray for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, their families, and all those who accompany survivors in the path towards healing, that they experience Christ’s profound love for them and God’s healing grace.”
The USCCB’s Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection will release several new resources in coming weeks. They include videos, podcasts, and a webinar series in its ongoing commitment to assist the dioceses and eparchies of the United State in safeguarding children and the vulnerable. This year, the Secretariat will continue its High Reliability Organization (HRO) initiative which provides diocesan/eparchial staff with proactive abuse prevention strategies, and the Child Abuse Prevention Empowerment (CAPE) online learning platform available to all Church personnel to learn more about matters of child and youth protection.
These materials and resources may be found on the main page for the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and will also be shared on USCCB’s social media.