2.1.9 Appendix I-Principles Governing the Pastoral Care of Abuse Victims

(PRINCIPLES FOR MINISTERING TO VICTIMS OF ABUSE, NOVEMBER 11, 2013)

1.    The values of truth and the pastoral mission of the Church explain the approach of the diocese when adults report, or others report on their behalf, that they were sexually abused as a minor by clergy, employees, or others associated with the diocese whether the abuse took place recently or in the past.

2.    They also underlie the diocesan practice of the procedures contained in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, its observance of the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, and its continuing cooperation with audits conducted by the USCCB.

3.    Allegations are reported and investigated in a truthful way that complies with all civil and ecclesiastical laws, cooperates with civil authority, and respects the dignity and rights of the persons who are involved. 4. Since "the first obligation of the Church with regard to the victims is for healing and reconciliation" (Charter, article 1), pastoral outreach and assistance are offered to victims in a way that is tailored to the specific circumstances.

(ELABORATION OF PRINCIPLES GOVERNING THE PASTORAL CARE OF VICTIMS)

When a person reports sexual abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Lansing will treat the person with respect, listen carefully, ascertain the facts insofar as possible, and provide such healing and peace as the Diocese is able to provide.

This memorandum describes in greater detail the ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing toward persons who report that they were sexually abused as a minor by clergy, employees, or others associated with the Diocese.  The principles stated in this memorandum are not new. Rather they reflect the current practices of the Diocese, and are summarized here for the convenience of those who wish to be informed about those practices.

There are innumerable variables in these cases.  Among them are the age, gender, and current emotional condition of the victim.  The accused may be alive or dead.  If a cleric, the accused may be in active ministry, in senior status, deceased, or laicized.  The accused might be an incardinated cleric of this Diocese, or might be a member of a religious order or a cleric of another diocese.  Sometimes there is other evidence to shed light on the accusation, and sometimes there is not.  And, always, the facts will be unique.  For these reasons, there are limits to a bishop’s ability to specify exactly how a case should proceed.  Instead, these directions are a set of principles that are to be applied consistently throughout our handling of current or future allegations.

In cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct against a minor, all persons acting on behalf of the

Diocese of Lansing are to observe the following —

1.    The Diocese will fully satisfy its obligations under the law of the State of Michigan, and will fully satisfy its obligations under the canon law of the Catholic Church, including the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms for Diocesan / Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons.  The Diocese will fully cooperate with the periodic audits conducted by representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2.    The Diocese will keep in place its current policies strictly prohibiting sexual abuse of minors and other forms of related misconduct, including sexual harassment.  These policies will remain easily accessible through the diocesan website and other sources.

3.    The Diocese will continue to publicize its desire that victims of sexual abuse by a cleric or employee come forward and report that they have been harmed by this grave sin.

4.    The Diocese will continue to publicize the contact information for the Victim Assistance Coordinator, as well as the willingness of the Diocese to accept reports sent indirectly to the Diocese through other pastoral ministers and employees.

5.    Any person approaching a representative of the Diocese with an allegation of abuse will be treated with courtesy, respect, and charity at every stage of our interaction with that person.

6.    Throughout the time that an allegation is being considered, the Diocese will protect the safety and dignity of the person making the allegation, and will respect the presumption of the accused person’s innocence.

7.    If a complaint of current ongoing abuse is received, the Diocese will take immediate action to safeguard the victim.  Without limitation, such action should include immediate notification of the police, and an immediate administrative leave of absence for the accused person.

8.    If a complaint of abuse involves a victim who is still a minor and an accused person who is alive, or if a complaint of abuse involves an accused person who is deceased, the Diocese will notify the prosecuting attorney.  If a complaint of abuse involves a victim who is now an adult and an accused person who is alive, the Diocese will ask the victim whether he or she wishes the Diocese to notify the prosecuting attorney, and will honor those wishes.

9.    The Diocese will fully cooperate with law enforcement officials.  In doing so, the Diocese will honor the confidentiality requirements of civil and canon law.  This cooperation includes notifying the prosecuting attorney of any information known to the Diocese regarding an allegation of sexual abuse, and delaying an internal investigation of an abuse allegation if the police or prosecutor requests that the Diocese do so, pending the completion of a criminal investigation.

10.    When a person alleges that he or she is a victim of a cleric or employee of this Diocese, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will invite the person to meet at a time and place of the person’s convenience to discuss the allegation.  If the person is a girl or a woman, the diocesan representatives will include a woman.

11.    When a person alleges that he or she is a victim of a cleric or member of a religious order, or of a cleric or employee of another diocese, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will provide the person with the necessary contact information, and will continue to oversee the case until it is clear that the religious order or other diocese has acknowledged receipt of the allegation.

12.    Except where there is a particular need to do otherwise, the Diocese will communicate with a person who has made an allegation by the means (telephone, email, facsimile, or postal mail) preferred by the person. Important communications will be provided in writing, which can include email or an email attachment.

13.    The Diocese will respond promptly to communications from a person who has made an allegatio Ordinarily, routine communications will be answered within two or three business days. Where additional time is necessary, as when a substantive answer must be given, the Diocese will provide the answer within a reasonable time and the Diocese will tell the person within two or three business days when the person should expect to receive the substantive answer.

14.    If an allegation of abuse is made against a current employee of a parish, school, or agency of this Diocese (or of the Diocese itself), the Moderator of the Curia will summon the person and provide an opportunity to admit, deny, or explain the facts stated by the person who has made the allegation.  If the allegation is made against a cleric, the Bishop’s delegate will summon the priest or deacon and provide the same opportunity.  The person against whom the allegation is made will be told of the right to engage civil and canonical counsel.

15.    If the person who has made an allegation is willing, the person will be given an opportunity to meet with the Review Board.  Such a meeting can be conducted by videoconferencing if necessary.  The Review Board will schedule this meeting as soon as reasonably possible.

16.    If the accused person is alive and able to meet with the Review Board, the accused person also will be given that opportunity.  Again, the Review Board will schedule this meeting as soon as reasonably possible.

17.    Within two weeks of conducting its final interview, the Review Board will notify the Bishop in writing of its views regarding the credibility of the person who has made the allegation, the credibility of the accused person (if such a meeting took place), and the steps that it recommends the Bishop take.

18.    Depending on the circumstances, the Diocese may undertake a further investigation and may use other resources, such as the efforts of a private investigator.

19.    An allegation against a living employee or cleric will not be made public by the Diocese unless the accused person admits the allegation, or a criminal prosecution is begun, or there is a civil or canonical determination of guilt.  If a person is placed on administrative leave, the Diocese will simply make that announcement, and will not address the guilt or innocence of a person until the question is properly resolved.  An allegation against a deceased employee or cleric will not be made public by the Diocese unless the Diocese believes that the allegation is probably true.

20.    Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, the Bishop will make an announcement to meet the situation if the circumstances require that he do so for the well-being of the victim, the accused, or the Church.

21.    If, after full consideration of the known facts and the views of the Review Board, the Diocese determines that the allegation is true, the Diocese will proceed as follows.  If the accused person is a lay employee, the Diocese will terminate the person’s employment.  If the accused person is a cleric who has admitted the allegation, the Diocese will impose the penalties required by the Charter and Norms and will notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  If the accused person is a cleric who denies the allegation, the Diocese will place the cleric on administrative leave of absence and will ask the CDF for instruction regarding canonical proceedings regarding the cleric.

22.    The Diocese will be mindful of, and carefully attend to, the pastoral needs of the parish(es) at which the accused person has served. 

23.    If the Diocese or an appropriate canonical or civil body determines that the allegation is true, the Diocese will, in the parish(es) where the accused person served, extend a particular invitation for other victims of the accused to come forward.

24.    If the Diocese or an appropriate canonical or civil body determines that the allegation is true, the Diocese will attempt to reach agreement with the victim regarding an appropriate resolution of this matter.  If a written agreement is executed, it will not contain a confidentiality clause unless the victim requests such language.

25.    If, after full consideration of the known facts and the views of the Review Board, the Diocese determines that the allegation is false, the persons making the allegation and the accused person will be so notified.  If necessary, the Diocese will take appropriate steps to restore the good name of the accused.

26.    All communications from the Diocese will be accurate in content and pastoral in tone.

27.    The Diocese is committed to a process of continual improvement, reviewing its own policies and practices at regular intervals, and seeking the input of the Review Board with regard to those policies and practices.




Date approved by Bishop


Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor