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Safeguarding the Children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

August 22, 2018

by: Dale Sieverding, SLD, Director of Worship, St. Monica Catholic Community, Santa Monica, CA

In the wake of the devastating report on the grand jury investigations in the ecclesiastical province of Philadelphia, which includes all of the dioceses of Pennsylvania many Catholics – both practicing and ex-Catholics are outraged, disappointed and disillusioned with a church that has promised to do better. The outrage surrounds the situation of abuse, but also the cover up of the abuse by the ecclesiastical leaders – the bishops. The 2002 charter stands as a contemporary testament to the US Bishops pledge that even one incident of abuse, is one too many.

We have been asked by many people: “What are you doing to prevent this from occurring again?” In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and in most archdioceses and dioceses, since the charter took effect, strict policies, guidelines and procedures have been put in place to train volunteers, fingerprint volunteers, report and investigate complaints and allegations of abuse. The following are constitutive elements of the ADLA program to ensure the safety of our young people and vulnerable adult populations.

  • All parish and school volunteers receive VIRTUS Safeguard the Children training. The training certificate is valid for 4 years and must be renewed if expired or a person must be recertified if the certificate is near expiration. Key components of the training include:
    • Know the warning signs
    • Control access
    • Monitor all Programs and Ministries
    • Be Aware
    • Communicate Your Concerns
    • It is intended to help all of our volunteers recognize the warning signs of abuse and know how to respond.
  • All volunteers working directly with minors are asked to have their fingerprints run through the LIVESCAN system, which are kept on file by the archdiocese.
  • Any allegation or complaint of abuse is investigated by the Archdiocese Office of Safeguard the Children.
  • Every parish has a Safeguard the Children Committee to oversee implementation of the ADLA protocols and assure compliance in all entities of the parish – ministries, schools, volunteers, parish staff.
  • The archdiocese is working to empower children through the  VIRTUS Teaching Touching Safety Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program. The program teaches:
    • Empowerment to children and young people to protect themselves.
    • The Five Body Safety Rules & Safe Adults
    • Boundaries, Bullying & Cyber Bullying and Telling Someone you trust
    • Internet and Technology Safety & Creating and Following Rules
    • The program encourages parent involvement as they are the first teachers
  • The Archdiocese has:
    • A Zero Tolerance policy
    • Guidelines for Adults interacting with Minors at Parish/School activities or events
    • Code of Conduct for Middle and High School students volunteering with minors.
  • Mandated Bulletin announcements for child protection in a “Did you know?” format.
  • Commitment to assist anyone who has been abused with appropriate counseling, pastoral care and healing.
  • Designation of parish staff, clergy and school personnel as mandatory reporters.

The devastation to a person of any age, and especially children, to be abused by a person, and especially a priest who is ordained to act “in the person of Christ” (in persona Christi), is what makes the crime of child sexual abuse so heinous and is an outrage to our sensibilities as human beings and as Catholics. In addition to outrage over the violation of trust is the systemic cover-up and neglect on the part of the bishops who should have been protecting their flock.

If there is anything positive that can be gleaned from the recent news, it is that since the Charter has been put into effect in 2002, there are almost no cases of abuse reported. Pope Francis has addressed the whole world stating that there must be no more abuse of children and no more cover up. He acknowledges “the pain of the victims which is stronger than those who might have wished to silence their voices.” The Pope affirms that the entire Catholic community must ensure that there is no more abuse, strengthen safeguarding measures and end a culture where abuse is covered up. (

Our fervent prayer is that those who have been abused might know healing, peace and safety. Our prayer is that priests and religious remain faithful to their calling, and that those acting in persona Christi, might renew their commitment to the Lord and to the Church to represent to us the person of Christ in consistent and sacramental way. Our fervent prayer is that we, the church – Body of Christ – be ever more faithful to our calling to be formed into loving disciples to transform the world, root out abuse and make the church and world safe for our most vulnerable members.

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