In Dallas, 2002, at their Annual Meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops drafted a landmark document in response to the crisis of sexual abuse of children in the Church. This document, setting forth their agreed upon responsibilities in combating the problem, was entitled the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The Charter specifically created the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and assigned to it three central tasks:
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To assist each diocese and eparchy (eastern Rite Churches) in implementing "Safe Environment" programs designed to ensure necessary safety and security for all children as they participate in church and religious activities To develop an appropriate compliance audit mechanism to assist the Bishops and Eparchs in adhering to the responsibilities set forth in the Charter To prepare a public, annual report describing the compliance of each diocese and eparchy to the Charter's provisions.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing 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.
The Charter directs action in all the following matters:
• Creating a safe environment for children and young people;Read full text of the Charter. . .
• Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors;
• Making prompt and effective response to allegations;
• Cooperating with civil authorities;
• Disciplining offenders;
• Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the National Review Board during their meeting in June of 2002. The functions of the Board were revised slightly and reconfirmed in June of 2005 when the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was revised and extended through 2010. The purpose of the National Review Board is to collaborate with the USCCB in preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church.
The Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection maintains a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) on their website. Sections are included for the following:
• Background Evaluations • Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People • Clergy • Code of Conduct • Essential Norms • National Review Board • Parents • Safe Environment • Safe Environment Training for Children • Victims
Studies on Clergy Sexual Abuse Commissioned by USCCB through the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010
Audits to determine compliance with the Bishops’ Charter are conducted in dioceses each year. Statistics on background checks and training programs are collected from all dioceses every year. Every third year, dioceses undergo an on-site audit where key diocese officials are interviewed, records are examined and parishes are visited.
The data is compiled each year and an annual report is generated. Click to view the most recent report.
The USCCB has gathered a number of resources available to dioceses, parishes and the public. Click here to view resources.
Many organizations are devoted to the safety of children. The USCCB continues to build and monitor a list of valuable websites.