Letter Of Promulgation Charter
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus showed constant care for the vulnerable. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People observes that Christ “extended this care in a tender and urgent way to children, rebuking his disciples for keeping them away from him.” He also issued a dire warning to anyone who would “lead the little ones astray.” Protecting children, young people, and vulnerable adults is a clear and critical responsibility of those who follow our Lord.
Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger approved the Diocese of Evansville Safe Environment program on 1 October 2003. My predecessor, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, reaffirmed it on 2 August 2011. I have issued a decree on this date re-promulgating the Safe Environment program of the Diocese of Evansville as being a critical responsibility and in accordance with Catholic moral principles.
Diocese of Evansville Safe Environment program contents are described in the Framework for Youth Protection Safe Environment program manual. The Framework has effectively developed over time—and will continue to evolve—to diligently meet new challenges, integrate best practices, and adhere to the Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and Essential Norms.
My promulgation of the decree affords an opportunity to highlight several Framework components and developments:
- Every parish or cluster and each high school is to appoint a Youth Protection Coordinator who is responsible for implementing the diocesan youth protection policies at the local level.
- Each parish and high school is to have a Framework for Youth Protection Safe Environment program manual and required handbooks with the local guidelines and procedures for educational, catechetical, and youth ministry activities.
- Every adult working with youth in any capacity is required to sign on an annual basis the Best Practices for Pastoral Conduct form, which specifies the conditions of providing services to the children and youth of our diocese.
- Every adult working with youth in any capacity is required to attend a training session, which includes a presentation of the policies of the Framework and addresses such issues as: what constitutes child abuse, including sexual abuse; what actions an adult should take when he or she believes that child abuse, including sexual abuse, may be occurring; and what the laws and policies are regarding the reporting of such abuse. During the training, participants review our Diocesan Policy: Report and Inform, Best Practices for Adults who Work with Youth, and Best Practices for Pastoral Conduct. They also learn about our background check policy.
- Adults working with children and/or youth for the first time must complete the full training. Thereafter, on an annual basis, all adults are required to complete refresher training by one of several options named in the Framework.
- Children and youth are to be trained using age appropriate materials. The Framework contains an outline of the curriculum and resources to be used for this training.
- Parents are also to be trained regarding safe environments.
- Any adult (paid and volunteer) who works with youth in any capacity is required to submit to a criminal history background check. To conduct these background checks, the diocese has chosen Selection.com, a Catholic faith-based background check company with offices in Cincinnati, Ohio. Selection.com provides a variety of criminal history background checks, as well as Motor Vehicle and Credit Reports. Motor Vehicle Reports are to be run on any employee whose tasks will include driving and on any volunteer who would be driving children. Credit Reports are required for anyone who will have access to funds in excess of $1,000.
It is important that I take this opportunity to clearly and emphatically restate the diocesan Report and Inform policy, which is contained in the Framework:
- Sexual misconduct violates human dignity and the mission of the Church. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the Church
- The Diocese of Evansville has in place a policy that requires that any allegation of child abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect must be reported to civil authorities. If an allegation involves the sexual abuse of a minor by diocesan personnel, the Victim Assistance Coordinator must also be informed.
- Report child abuse: Every allegation of child abuse must be reported to Child Protective Services, an agency of Indiana state government. Local law enforcement may also be contacted.
- Child Protective Services Toll-free: (800) 800-5556
- Local law enforcement (for emergency situations): 911
- Report and inform: In the event of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor (a person under 18) by diocesan personnel, report the allegation to authorities, and inform the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the diocese. Sexual abuse of a person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor.
- Toll-free: (866) 200-3004
- Local: (812) 490-9565
Finally, I invite you to visit www.evdio.org for additional details about the diocesan Safe Environment program.
May Blessed Mary, Mother of God, patroness of the Diocese of Evansville, guide us ever closer to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph M. Siegel, DD, STL
Bishop of Evansville