At a minimum, all children have the right to be safe and protected from harm at all times. The Diocese of Ogdensburg holds the safety and protection of children and young people as a priority and sacred duty. The Diocese is dedicated to promoting a safe environment, preventing sexual abuse and bringing the healing ministry of the Church, wherever possible. The Diocese expects all persons and entities under its auspices to comply with the letter and the spirit of this policy. This policy builds on a history of policies and practices that have sought to foster quality, inspiring, and wholesome ministry to our young people by competent, qualified and committed clergy, religious and laypersons.
This policy is meant to replace the previous policies mentioned below. History of Diocesan Policies The Pastoral Care of Minors Recognizing the special responsibility borne by clergy, religious and laity in the service of children and young people, the Diocese of Ogdensburg in adopted The Pastoral Care of Minors, to serve as prudent and comprehensive guidelines for those continuing Jesus pastoral care for young people.
The Pastoral Care of Minors set forth our commitment to provide an environment that would enable young people to grow by a encouraging their involvement in religious activities; b enabling them to grow in their understanding of the faith; c providing good example for them to imitate; and d providing a wholesome and safe environment. The policy further set forth the commitment of the Diocese to parents by a assuring that all programs for minors would be prudently supervised by competent adults; b scheduling events at appropriate times and at appropriate places; c keeping parents advised of the time, place and content of all activities for their children; d assuring that our leaders possess good moral character; and e always respecting the rights and responsibilities of parents relative to their child.
That policy also provided guidelines for confidential information disclosed by minors, in the context of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in other settings, together with the responsibilities for adults ministering to minors to be vigilant in safeguarding young people and to follow diocesan procedures in reporting any abuse to diocesan officials and civil law enforcement and other government agencies. This policy required background checks for all clergy, religious, diocesan and parish employees, Catholic School principals, teachers, catechetical leaders, catechists, seminarians, youth leaders, volunteers and employees who assist in youth programs and events, and all adult volunteers who assist in youth ministries.
The policy requires that re-checks be conducted at least every ten years. Required Training and Codes of Conduct. Safe Environment for our Children and Young People established requirements of Protecting God s Children Training Virtus Training for all clergy, religious and laity working with youth. Virtus Training provides adult leaders with the knowledge and training to prevent, recognize and appropriately report child sexual abuse. The training also provides the basic information for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our young people to grow in their faith.
Safe Environment for our Children and Young People required those responsible for the supervision of adults to review the expectations placed on volunteers working with young people. Either individually or in group settings, the supervisor was to educate the adult volunteers about expectations placed on those working with young people, including appropriate behaviors and prohibited behaviors.
These volunteers were also required to participate in Virtus Training and submit to a background check. This document will remain in use under this policy. Additionally, this policy required training for minors who assisted in youth ministries or worked in a parish setting. Adults responsible for the supervision of such minor volunteers were required to educate them about expectations placed upon them, including appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
Code of Pastoral Conduct The Diocese promulgated the Code of Pastoral Conduct in to assist priests, deacons, pastoral ministers, administrators, staff members, and volunteers to properly deal with situations that might arise in pastoral counselling relationships and conduct with youth. The Code of Pastoral Conduct established norms for establishing proper boundaries, maintaining professional relationships, representing the authentic teaching of the Church, respecting confidential information, conducting oneself appropriately when dealing with youth, defining inappropriate behaviors, and reporting inappropriate conduct.
The Code served as an educational and training tool. Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse. The Diocese promulgated Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse to establish a procedure for investigating and responding to allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy. This policy sought to safeguard the rights of the person making the allegation, outline the 6. The policy explains the role of the Review Board, establishes a procedure for the making of reports and responding to reports. It also set forth the obligations of all diocesan and parish personnel to report abuse.
The principles set forth in Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse have been incorporated into this policy. The guidelines outline the need to plan events, communicate with parents, set expectations for participants, and train chaperones to assure the safety of all participants. Victims Assistance Program The Diocese has provided aid to victims of abuse in the form of counselling, support and financial assistance.
The Diocese has consistently sought to bring healing and consolation to those who have suffered abuse. This assistance is more fully described below in the policy. This Policy The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People mandates that every diocese establish and maintain safe environment programs and provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators and others about ways to make and maintain safe environments for children and young people in the Church.
Clear standards of conduct for clergy and others in positions of trust are to be promulgated in every diocese. Background checks on all diocesan and parish personnel are to be employed to adequately screen the fitness of those working with children and young people. Additionally, the Charter requires every diocese to have a written policy on the sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, as well as by other church personnel.
In this policy, we recommit ourselves to providing a safe environment for every child and young person.
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We will continue to improve our efforts to prevent child sexual abuse through education, screening our personnel and training those working with children and young people. We dedicate ourselves anew to address the needs of the abused child and family, as well as the affected Catholic community. We reaffirm our commitment to respect all the requirements of civil and church law. The information contained in this document supersedes and replaces any information contained in the former policies mentioned above, unless noted otherwise.
Education: Youth Protection Training for Adults The Diocese of Ogdensburg has a two-pronged approach to prevent child sexual abuse before it happens and to respond to it adequately and swiftly when it has occurred or is alleged. Educating our priests, employees and volunteers about abuse issues raises their awareness and vigilance. By educating our children and young people on how to be safe and stay safe, we enhance the ability of children and young people to help protect themselves, avoid questionable settings and to communicate to an adult any potential endangerment or improper conduct.
Protecting God s Children. The initial three-hour Virtus Training is required for: A. All clergy, seminarians and religious who serve in or represent the Diocese of Ogdensburg; B. All paid personnel employees , whether on the diocesan level or parish level; C. Catholic school principals, assistant principals, teachers, guidance counsellors, before and after school personnel, librarians, staff members and volunteers, including substitute teachers, aides, janitors, maintenance personnel, food service workers, school nurses if employed by the Catholic school and office personnel; D. Faith Formation Leaders, catechists and all volunteers in faith formation programs; E.
All personnel or volunteers providing child care services; F. Youth ministers, coaches or directors of child or youth activities e. All volunteers who have regular contact with children and young people; H. Contracted persons or temporary employees whose appointment will be for at least 90 days and who will have regular contact with children or young people e. Any other person directed to undergo Virtus Training by the Diocesan Bishop or his delegate. Continuous Virtus Training for: Continuous monthly Virtus Training, either via internet or printed version, is required A. All clergy and seminarians; 8.
Youth Ministry Directors paid or volunteer ; C. All catechetical leaders paid or volunteer ; D. All Catholic School Principals, assistant principals, teachers, teachers aides; and E. All employees who have contact with minors on a regular basis; and F. All Protecting God s Children workshop facilitators. In addition, clergy and religious will also receive information and training on aa ministering to adults, children and young people about prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation; bb ministering to victims of child sexual abuse; and cc penitential privilege, confidential information and the seal of confessional.
This can be done in a group or individual meeting. This review can be done in a group or individual meeting. This Code is to be signed by the adult volunteer and the supervisor, and is to be kept on file in the parish or school where the adult provides ministry. The three-hour Virtus Training will be offered by the Diocese at multiple locations to accommodate the training of staff and volunteers. New staff and volunteers may attend any scheduled training session in the parish, diocese or other settings in which the training is offered.
Additional sessions addressing safe environment issues are encouraged for both Catholic School and public school students. Training for school-aged children in formation programs in parishes will be provided under the oversight of the Diocesan Regional Directors of Faith Formation.
Diocesan Catholic Charities Program Directors, the Director of Camp Guggenheim, and the Director of Youth Ministry will supervise age appropriate training participants in any of their programs who are under the age of. I All background checks must be conducted prior to hire or commencement of ministry. The following must have background checks: A All clergy, religious, Catholic school principals and teachers, faith formation leaders, catechists, seminarians, and youth ministers. B Those who assist in youth ministry, all volunteers over the age of 18 having a recurring, regular contact with minors, and all chaperones for overnight activities even if only for a single event.
C All paid personnel employed by the parish, Catholic school, Church institutions, and diocesan staff.
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D Random ongoing background checks will be performed on all employees and volunteers for whom initial checks are required. Each person so covered will be subject to this background re-check at least every ten years. E Payment for each ongoing check will be the responsibility of the parish or institution where the person is employed or volunteers. In the cases of necessity and with the approval of the Director of the Office of Safe Environment, persons who have completed background checks procedure but are awaiting the return of the background checks may begin ministry, provided they will be appropriately monitored until written reports are received.
Employment, assignment or volunteer service are contingent upon favorable results of the background check. II III IV V VI Pastors, school principals, catechetical leaders, and youth ministers are asked to have each person in their charge for which a background check is required sign a copy of the diocesan release form allowing the Diocese of Ogdensburg or its agent to perform this investigation.
Church-sponsored or church-related groups whose ministries could put them in contact with minors must have background checks. The leaders of outside groups which use church property for activities involving youths must have proof of background checks from their respective groups or must undergo a background check.
Individuals who have undergone background checks by the Church, subsequently leave the Church s employ, and later seek re-employment with the Church, must undergo another background check before re-hire. The employer must contact the Director of the Office of Safe Environment to discuss the hiring of anyone who has a record of any misdemeanor or felony before that individual is hired.
Such behavior Posting or accessing child pornography is a crime and will result in denial or termination of employment, ministry or voluntary service involving minors. If child pornography is discovered by or brought to the attention of the Diocese, the Diocese has the obligation to report it to civil law enforcement authorities. Anyone found to be distributing or showing sexually explicit materials in any setting shall not be eligible for ministry, employment or voluntary services at any diocesan entity.
The Testimonial must be signed by the visiting minister s bishop or religious superior or his delegate. The Testimonial of Suitability must be submitted no later than one week prior to the exercise of ministry by the visiting clergy or religious. The Testimonial will be deemed valid for one year from the date of execution but must be renewed thereafter. Model testimonial letters that may be adapted and used to provide the testimonial we require are annexed hereto as Appendix J. The letter should always reference the event s for which the priest, religious or deacon will be ministering in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.
It is to be mailed by the office of the proper bishop or religious superior to: Moderator of the Curia or Vicar for Pastoral Personnel Diocese of Ogdensburg PO Box Ogdensburg, NY Compliance with this requirement is important to promote the integrity of ministry in the name of Jesus Christ and to foster an environment of safety for the people being served in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Applicants will also submit a notarized written statement indicating they have no history that would render them unsuitable to work with children or young people.
The Bishop of Ogdensburg reserves the right to determine the sufficiency of clearance and training in another diocese for service in the Diocese of Ogdensburg and to require persons from other dioceses to undergo a background check acceptable to the Diocese of Ogdensburg and Virtus Training before such persons are authorized to work in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. When applying for a Testimonial of Suitability aka Letter of Good Standing , please include the name and address including fax number or address of the person to whom the letter should be addressed e.
Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia, Vicar for Priest Personnel , the name and address of the pastor where the ministry will take place, the name of the church, a description of the ministry to be provided preside at baptism or marriage, concelebrate at ordination, etc. Volunteers and workers under the age of 18 are not required to attend Virtus Training or to apply for a background check as a condition for their ministry or work.
The young person is to sign the Code and it is to be retained in the parish or school where the young person volunteers or works. The Diocese of Ogdensburg is committed to working with civil authorities to protect children and young people, report alleged incidents of abuse consistent with this policy, and to cooperate in the investigation and proceedings associated The Diocese recognizes the on-going need to educate its clergy, employees, and volunteers concerning the characteristics of exploitive behavior, the maintenance of professional and faithful integrity, and the requirements of civil and canon law.
The purpose of our safe environment program is to prevent any misconduct, actual or perceived, and to provide appropriate intervention procedures in such an event. Anyone who witnesses or suspects sexual abuse of a minor by any member of the clergy, employee, religious or volunteer in the Diocese of Ogdensburg is to contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator of the Diocese Terrianne Yanulavich, Ph. In addition, all statemandated reporters should call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at or The Diocese will immediately report current cases involving a minor and any clergy member, employee, religious or volunteer to the appropriate civil authorities.
The Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, the Vicar for Pastoral Personnel or his delegate will notify the Diocesan Bishop and the supervisor of the location where the accused person works or volunteers and the location where the incident allegedly occurred when the accused is a diocesan priest, deacon, religious, employee or volunteer. The Diocesan Bishop or his delegate will provide a report of suspected child sexual abuse to the major superior of a religious or the bishop of a diocesan priest who is not a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.
Any person alleging that he or she was a victim shall be informed of his or her right to report to the appropriate civil authority. The Diocese shall support any alleged victim in the exercise of this right.
The Roman Catholic Church in Northern New York
In a case in which the individual designated to receive the report is the accused, the report should be directed to the designee s superior. The Diocese of Ogdensburg shall, consistent with this policy, directly report to and coordinate with civil authorities in the appropriate manner. Anyone who suspects child sexual abuse in a Catholic School in our diocese when the accused is a clergy member, religious, employee or volunteer should immediately notify the principal who will call the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator or the Vicar for Pastoral Personnel x or the Vicar General or.
In addition, all state-mandated reporters should call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at or In a school setting, mandated reporters include school officials, which includes but is not limited to school teacher, school guidance counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school nurse, school administrator or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate; and a full or parttime compensated school employee required to hold a temporary coaching license or professional coaching certificate.
The Catholic School Principal will immediately notify the pastor and the Catholic School Superintendent or his or her delegate , who in turn will notify the Diocesan Bishop. Anyone who suspects child sexual abuse in a Catechetical Program in our diocese when the accused is a clergy member, religious, employee or volunteer should immediately notify the parish Faith Formation Director who will call the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator or the Vicar for Pastoral Personnel x or the Vicar General or. The parish Faith Formation Director will immediately notify the pastor and the Diocesan Director of Faith Formation or his or her delegate.
Not every conversation between a priest and another person falls under the priest-penitent context, but when the priest-penitent relationship does exist the sanctity of the absolute confidentiality of information shared by an individual and his or her confessor is inviolate. Information shared by an adult to a licensed or certified confidant in which confidentiality is reasonably expected may have the status of a privileged communication. Such relationships The requirements for confidential relationship will be clarified for employees at their worksites. The interplay between the requirements of confidential relationships and laws for mandated reporters will be clarified for employees at their worksites.
The following information should be reported to the extent it is known by the person making the report: a Name, address, age and current whereabouts of the alleged victim; b Name and address of parent, guardian or caretaker, in cases involving a minor; c Name, address and whereabouts of the person or persons suspected of the abuse, if known; d Nature, extent and date of the alleged misconduct and description of injuries alleged; e Name and contact information of others having knowledge of the allegation, and whether it has been reported to any third party, including civil authorities.
The Diocese will advise and support the person alleging abuse of their right to notify appropriate law enforcement and social service agencies and to retain private legal counsel. The Diocese will cooperate fully with law enforcement and social service agencies. If the person alleging abuse is a minor at the time of the allegation, the Diocese shall report the allegation to the proper authorities.
The Bishop or his delegate, accompanied by a witness, will confront the accused cleric with the accusation, while respecting his rights under canon law. If there is sufficient evidence that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred, the accused will be requested to undergo a voluntary independent psychological evaluation. The cleric will be advised of his right to retain a private and canonical counsel. The Diocesan Review Board will also consult with the Bishop relative to the implementation of this policy and its effectiveness. Despite such precautions, allegations of suspected misconduct may occur.
When allegations of suspected abuse against minors are made against any party, the Diocese will consider the rights, interests and needs of all parties. The first step in the reporting procedure is always to contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator or the Vicar for Pastoral Personnel, who will then coordinate the process, and take appropriate actions. When the Diocese receives a clear allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against a member of the clergy or religious from a credible source, the following steps will be taken: 1.
The Vicar for Pastoral Personnel or the designated diocesan official will promptly inform the Bishop of the allegation. The Victims Assistance Coordinator will meet with the person making the allegation. Preferably, if the alleged victim is a female, the designated person should be a female. This is to be followed with a meeting with the accused priest, religious or deacon by the Vicar for Pastoral Personnel, together with a witness. Following these meetings, the matter will be immediately reported to the district attorney having local jurisdiction.
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The person making the allegation shall be advised of his or her absolute right to have an attorney or other person present to assist or support him or her and to submit the complaint to the office of the district attorney. The person making the allegation shall be advised of the availability of the Bishop to meet with him or her should that be desired.
Where no reasonable grounds are found to exist, the complainant shall be notified of this determination and reminded of his or her legal rights. The accused cleric or religious is to be notified immediately of this finding. Action Following Preliminary Investigation a. Soon after the diocesan official meets with the complainant and meets with the accused, the Chairperson will convene the Review Board.
The Board shall assess the allegation and advise the Bishop of further action regarding the substance of the allegation. The assessment reached by the Review Board will be communicated to the alleged victim and the accused. If it is determined that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse took place, the Bishop will promptly relieve the cleric of his ministerial duties cf.
If the cleric is incardinated into another diocese or is a member of religious community, the Bishop will notify the bishop of the accused or his or her religious superior of the need to place the accused on administrative leave. The Bishop, or his delegate, will meet immediately with the accused to review the allegation, to advise him or her of his or her rights to canonical due process and to legal and canonical counsel during the proceedings.
The alleged offender will be encouraged to undertake an appropriate medical and psychological evaluation. To provide support to every person who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the Church, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years ago, the Diocese of Ogdensburg provides a competent Victims Assistance Coordinator to aid in the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been sexually abused as minors.
The Church s outreach will include provision of counseling, spiritual assistance, and other social services. Should a cleric incardinated in the Diocese of Ogdensburg admit to the allegation, he will be removed from ministry immediately.
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Even in the case of a single act of sexual abuse of a minor, past or present the offending priest or deacon will be permanently removed from ministry. He will be offered professional assistance for his own healing and well-being, as well as for prevention of further abuse. The offender will not be permitted to celebrate Mass publicly, to wear clerical garb, or to present himself publicly as a priest or deacon. In every case, the processes provided for in canon law must be observed, cf. If the cleric who has admitted to the allegation resides in the Diocese of Ogdensburg but is incardinated into another diocese or is a member of a religious community, the Bishop of Ogdensburg, with notice to the cleric s bishop or superior, will promptly relieve the cleric of any assignment he has in the Diocese.
He shall request the bishop or superior to handle the matter according to the policy of the cleric s diocese or religious community. If the accused is religious but not a cleric who admitted the allegation resides in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, the Bishop of Ogdensburg, with notice to the accused s superior, will promptly relieve the accused of any assignment he or she has in the Diocese and direct him or her to leave any diocesan rectory, convent or facility, and shall advise the appropriate superior of such removal. Unloads mail from trucks.
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