Nearly 20 years ago in June 2002, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a means of addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and to create a system of accountability of all dioceses throughout the United States. The charter serves as a guide in ensuring that dioceses have put into place best practices for the protection of children. The charter establishes a framework for dioceses to create a safe environment for children and young people, instituting a process of accountability.
Our mission in the Diocese of Sacramento is to create a safe environment for children through education and prevention programs, and establishing policies that clearly set standards of behavior regarding contact with minors.
Dioceses/eparchies are to maintain “safe environment” programs which the diocesan/eparchial bishop deems to be in accord with Catholic moral principles.
– Article 12 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
Circle of Grace
The Diocese of Sacramento selected Circle of Grace as the designated training program for children enrolled in faith formation and diocesan schools. Circle of Grace is taught each year with lessons unique to each grade level. Circle of Grace serves the dual purpose of educating and informing youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others.
Through the Circle of Grace program, adults assist children and youth to recognize that each of us lives within a “Circle of Grace” that holds our very essence in body, mind, heart and soul. Through Circle of Grace, children and youth are taught to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.
The Circle of Grace curriculum centers on the following meditation:
Raise your hands above your head then bring
your outstretched arms slowly down.
Extend your arms
in front of you
and then behind you
embrace all of the space around you
slowly reach down to your feet.
Knowing that God is in this space with you.
This is your Circle of Grace;
you are in it.
The Diocese of Sacramento selected Safe Haven as the designated safe environment training program for clergy, employees and volunteers. Safe Haven is a three-part video series, which identifies real-life abuse and neglect situations that volunteers and employees may encounter. The training is offered through Catholic Mutual Group and has to be renewed every three years.
Safe Haven addresses important topics such as pornography, grooming techniques, social media interaction and boundary violations. The training also covers the different types of abuse and neglect. Each video segment is followed by a short quiz that emphasizes the key learning points of the video. Most importantly, the training makes clear that our policies for the protection of youth must be understood, accepted and followed at all times.
Dioceses/eparchies are to evaluate the background of all their respective diocesan/eparchial and parish/school or other paid personnel and volunteers whose duties include contact with minors.
– Article 13 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
In the Diocese of Sacramento, all clergy, employees and volunteers who have ongoing contact with children are required to complete a background check and safe environment training.
Background checks are completed through the Department of Justice/FBI by Live Scan fingerprinting. Volunteers are cleared through the Department of Justice. Clergy and employees are cleared through the Department of Justice and FBI. In addition, all clergy who have served internationally are cleared through the respective countries.
Each year, the Diocese of Sacramento is audited by an outside agency for safe environment compliance. This past fall, the diocese participated in a three-day on-site audit. For the 2020-2021 audit year, the diocese was found to be in compliance with all requirements.
Independent Review Board
An Independent Review Board that includes lay experts in criminal justice, psychology and child welfare advises the bishop of Sacramento in the assessment of all allegations of abuse of minors. This review board brings outside expertise and a focused commitment to child safety, and advises on whether an accused cleric is suitable for ministry. In addition, the board regularly reviews the diocese’s policies and procedures for dealing with the abuse of minors.
Victim Assistance Coordinator
The Diocese of Sacramento provides a pastoral care coordinator to assist persons who have suffered sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy and other Catholic Church workers. The Pastoral Care Coordinator arranges for professional counseling and resources. The toll-free number to reach the Victim Assistance Coordinator and to report abuse is 866-777-9133. Reports can be taken in English and Spanish.
Anyone who has reason to believe abuse of a child or young person by clergy, employees or volunteers in any of the dioceses’ schools or programs has occurred, or could occur, is encouraged to report this immediately. It is important to understand that you need not wait for proof or certainty that abuse occurred. If you suspect abuse, please report it immediately. Reports should be made first to law enforcement or other civil authorities (child protective services or adult protective services) and then to the Diocese of Sacramento via the toll-free line at 866-777-9133.
The Diocese of Sacramento pledges its commitment to solid and enduring programs and policies that will: protect children and young people, foster vigilance on the part of all our staff and volunteers to keep children and those who are vulnerable safe, and help heal the pain caused by abuse and bring lasting peace to victims. We are trusted by the faithful to bring compassion and aid to all God’s children and to dedicate ourselves to that sacred responsibility.
Katita Schloemann is safe environment coordinator for the Diocese of Sacramento.
Did you know?
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established by the USCCB in June of 2002. It is a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of abuse.
The Charter actively addresses:
• Creating a safe environment for children and young people
• Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors
• Ensuring prompt and effective response to allegations
• Cooperating with civil authorities
• Holding offenders accountable
• Instituting a process of accountability for the future to ensure instance of allegations are dealt with swiftly and effectively
• The Charter calls for annual audits of dioceses to ascertain compliance with the Charter by the bishop and his diocese. Annual audits have been conducted since 2003.
The Diocese of Sacramento has been in compliance with all audits since 2003.
In August 2021, the Diocese of Sacramento completed its annual audit and received confirmation from the auditors indicating full compliance with all requirements of the Charter.
• About the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People at usccb.org/charter
• About the safe environment programs in the Diocese of Sacramento at www.scd.org/safe-environment.