We must show God's love and mercy while continuing to seek forgiveness for the Church’s failings and healing for those who were hurt by them. We must also continue to make every possible effort to prevent future transgressions.
† Luis Rafael Zarama, J.C.L., Bishop of Raleigh
In 2002, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met to discuss the clerical child sexual abuse scandal and confront it with a renewed and stronger commitment to upholding the values of the Catholic faith. The bishops agreed to a series of new rules and developed a set of guidelines so each diocese could ensure a safe environment for children and a proper response in the event of an allegation of child abuse by a member of the clergy. The resulting Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the Charter) calls for parishes to complete an annual report detailing efforts to screen those who work with children and youth and to provide training on how to recognize and report child abuse and neglect.
Guided by the Charter, the Diocese of Raleigh Office of Child and Youth Protection enhanced the child safety guidelines that had been in place in the diocese since 1993:
- Criminal background checks were expanded beyond clergy, seminarians and some employees to include all employees and volunteers leading ministry with children. Since 2003, over 24,000 criminal background screenings have been completed.
- In cooperation with Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, a safe environment program was implemented and more than 25,000 staff and volunteers have been trained on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.
- Regular training is provided to staff and volunteers to help them know the proper protocols if they believe abuse or misconduct to have occurred.
- All accusations of sexual abuse, past or present, are reported to the NC Conference of District Attorneys.
- The safe environment program provides educational materials for families, educators and parents.
- The Charter gave new focus to the Diocese of Raleigh Review Board, which was established in 1998. This board ensures that all allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor are reported to law enforcement and that all who come forward to report abuse are offered both assistance toward healing and a meeting with the Bishop.
- The Diocesan Code of Professional Responsibility (1998) was re-written as the Code of Conduct for Church Personnel of the Diocese of Raleigh (PDF). All personnel, all who work and “represent the Church by virtue of office, designated position, employment or contract” share high expectations for conduct and respect for those entrusted to our care.
- A network of local safe environment teams exists across the diocese to help local parishes and ministries remain diligent in our efforts to be a safe and sacred place for children to grow in age, wisdom, and faith.
The Diocese of Raleigh strives to assist those seeking healing from abuse, works to ensure that abuse is reported promptly and educates the community in the hope that abuse will be stopped. We strive to respect life in all situations by fostering the development of each individual, and by creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all who seek an experience of the holy presence of God.
For more information, please also visit the USCCB Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection. This office is tasked with ensuring the implementation of the Charter and with supporting dioceses with their mission to provide a safe environment for children and youth. You may also contact the Diocese of Raleigh Office of Child and Youth Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-535-7233.