October 31, 2012
COMPREHENSIVE POLICIES FOR THE PROTECTION
OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
These polices, which have guided the Archdiocese's actions since the 2011 Grand Jury Report, directly address the report concerns about how allegations are received, reported, investigated and reviewed
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia today officially released its updated policies for the protection of children and young people, which become effective November 1st. These policies, developed and provisionally implemented since the release of the 2011 Grand Jury Report, address how allegations of child sexual abuse and violations of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries are received, reported, investigated and reviewed; how victim services are provided and how assignments of extern as well as religious priests are handled. These revised policies were developed through consultation with county district attorneys' offices and experts in the field of child sexual abuse.
"No entity in the United States today-Catholic or otherwise-seeks more earnestly than our Archdiocese to prevent the sexual abuse of children. These policies and procedures are a clear indication of that commitment," said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. He continued, "While recently codified these same policies have actually guided our practices for more than a year. They'll be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as circumstances require. I believe that we can be proud of the great effort and sincere determination to protecting young people that went into these policies. It's important to remember that even the best policies depend on our earnest dedication to live and enforce them. I'm committed to act accordingly now and in the future."
The new policies include some key changes put in effect since the 2011 Grand Jury Report. The policies establish a separate Office of Investigations to ensure immediate referral of any complaints to law enforcement. According to the policy, every complaint is logged and each allegation is promptly reviewed to determine whether interim restrictions on ministry or employment should be imposed. In a change from practice pre-2011, all complaints against clergy that involve minors, even those solely involving violations of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries are now sent to the Archdiocesan Review Board, which functions as a confidential, advisory committee to the Archbishop, providing recommendations in the assessment of allegations of abuse and suitability for ministry. Also included in the policies is a codification of steps to ensure that any cleric seeking to minister in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is screened in a consistent and through manner.
Mr. Arnold Gordon, former Philadelphia First Assistant District Attorney and current Vice Chair of the Archdiocesan Review Board, said, "The revised Policies and Procedures constitute significant evidence of the commitment of the Philadelphia Archdiocese to a zero tolerance policy toward the sexual abuse of minors."
In addition to the new policies and procedures, the Archdiocese has taken other significant steps over the last year to reform and improve the manner in which it lives up to its duty to protect children, including: training more than 35,000 Archdiocesan employees and volunteers to be mandatory reporters and separating the investigative from the victims assistance functions.
Editor's Note: For the executive summary and the complete policies for the protection of children and young people visit www.archphila.org.
Director of Communications