Safeguarding All of God's Family - Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee and St. James Catholic Parish is committed to helping victims/survivors of sexual abuse and to protecting children. All efforts and programs in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that relate to protecting God’s children and creating a safe environment come under the umbrella of Safeguarding All of God’s Family.
As a faith-filled people, we respect and value each and every individual, as we are created in the image and likeness of God. This is why the Safeguarding All of God’s Family program has been established. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is committed to creating a safe environment where all of God’s family – children, their parents and relatives, parish and school personnel, volunteers, clergy and archdiocesan central office personnel − will be able to work, live, and play in an environment where healthy and responsible relationships prevail.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People requires that dioceses/eparchies establish “safe environment” programs. Article 12 of the Charter states:
“Dioceses/eparchies will establish “safe environment” programs. They will cooperate with parents, civil authorities, educators and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children. Dioceses/eparchies will make clear to clergy and members of the community the standards of conduct for clergy and other persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse.” (Please see the link for more information: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/charter.cfm)
Our children are precious, and all adults need to better understand the injustice of sexual abuse in society. There is a need for creating a greater awareness about this problem. Safeguarding All of God’s Family is the program of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee dedicated to creating awareness and understanding of abuse of children and youth. Children and adolescents in our Religious Education program are offered a special class once a year which addresses these concerns. The class is specifically designed to respond to the age appropriateness and faith and moral development of each grade level. Parents are notified in advance of the class session. Parents may choose to have their children participate in it or “opt out” for that particular class time. Parental signatures are secured from those who choose to “opt out.”
The Charter is a comprehensive set of norms established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June 2002 that addresses allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of abuse.
This program offers an opportunity for all of God’s family to increase our awareness and knowledge of child sexual abuse in order to prevent any child from suffering this trauma, whether from school or Church personnel, family member or other person. Statistics show that most abuse occurs by a person known to the victim. Participating in this program will help all who work with children be more attuned to the warning signs of abuse and identify ways to respond. Awareness is the first step in understanding our responsibilities as members of God’s family to our children and young people.
All those who share their many talents and treasures within the Church atmosphere, paying particular attention to those whose ministry calls them to demonstrate their gifts through work with children and youth must participate in this program.
The following must join the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s mission to Safeguard All of God’s Family:
- All diocesan priests and deacons (active or retired) in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
- All priests who are members of religious communities and extern priests (priests from other dioceses) who minister within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
- Women religious and religious brothers working in the Archdiocese, its parishes or schools.
- Seminarians and those enrolled in the Diaconate Formation Program or Lay Formation Program.
- All paid personnel, whether employed in areas of ministry or other kinds of services provided by the Archdiocese, its parishes, schools or other agencies.
- All volunteers who enter into ministry involving contact with children and young people.
Keeping Children Safe from Sexual Abuse: Policies and Practices of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Keeping children safe from sexual abuse is a priority of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The Church is different today because of the courage of victims/survivors who have come forward, told their painful stories, and worked diligently to implement initiatives designed to guard against anything like this ever happening again.
Here are some of the actions implemented by the archdiocese since 2002 to keep children safe:
1. No priest with a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor can serve in public ministry in any way in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
2. All archdiocesan and parish personnel are bound by the mandatory reporting laws of the State of Wisconsin.
3. Sexual abuse prevention training and safe environment education is required by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for all archdiocesan and parish employees as well as volunteers who have regular contact with minors. More than 40,000 adults and 100,000 children have participated in the initiative.
4. In 2010, Archbishop Listecki approved a policy on the responsible use of social media by church staff and volunteers to protect children and youth.
5. State and national criminal background checks are required for all adults, including priests and bishops, staff and volunteers, who have regular interaction with minors in a Church setting.
6. All individuals must sign The Code of Ethical Standards that clearly outlines expected and acceptable behavior. (see link for more information: http://www.archmil.org/ArchMil/Resources/2010Website-CodeofEthicalStand.pdf
7. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee participates in a yearly on-site audit of its safe environment practices and procedures. Every year, the archdiocese has been found to be in full compliance. St. James was audited last year by the Archdiocese and was found to be in total compliance.
8. Religious order priests are subject to the same standards upheld in The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. When a religious order priest requests faculties to minister publicly within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, that priest’s superior is required to provide a statement verifying his suitability for ministry including assurance that he has not been credibly accused of abuse of a minor, has undergone a criminal background check and has completed safe environment training. The policy exists to protect reporters from any repercussion from their making a report.
9. A whistleblower policy exists to protect reporters from any repercussion from their making a report.