Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Since 2002, the Bishops of the United States have had in place the Charter for the Protection for Children and Young People. The principal purpose of the Charter is to ensure, as much as humanly possible, a safe environment for the children of each Diocese.
To implement the Charter, the Diocese of Allentown has taken numerous steps:
- A VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR was appointed to assist victims and survivors of abuse with compassion, respect and dignity. Our Diocese has reached out both pastorally and professionally, not only to victims and survivors, but also to their families, who can be devastated by these offenses.
- A five-person INDEPENDENT REVIEW BOARD of highly qualified professionals was appointed to advise me in discharging my responsibilities involving the sexual abuse of minors by clerics.
- The position of SAFE ENVIRONMENT COORDINATOR was created to oversee the training of clergy, Religious, lay employees and volunteers in identifying and preventing abuse of minors. In addition, Safe Environment record-keeping at all diocesan locations is coordinated through this office.
- By developing the role of DIOCESAN CHARTER COMPLIANCE OFFICER, all aspects of compliance with the norms of the Charter as well as diocesan policies are monitored. The Compliance Officer is also a resource for questions regarding background checks and local compliance issues.
- Criminal background checks and child abuse clearances have been conducted on thousands of clergy, lay personnel and volunteers of the Diocese and its parishes and its schools.
- Through a program called PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN™, thousands of volunteers in the Diocese together with priests, deacons, seminarians, Religious, diocesan employees, school principals, teachers and other employees have been trained on how to recognize child abuse if it has occurred and, significantly, on how to prevent it before it happens. Going forward we will be requiring VIRTUS monthly training bulletins for certain groups of people.
- We have required Mandated Reporter Training and have offered the training both live and online throughout the Diocese since 2015.
- We have implemented a Child Protective Services Law Policy, which is part of the live Mandated Reporter Training. In the online training, the Child Protective Services Law Policy is a separate online read and sign or acknowledgement form collected by the Local Safe Environment Coordinator.
- Separate safe environment programs have been instituted for students and parents in our schools and in our parish religious education programs.
No matter how fully our Diocese has complied with the Charter, there still remains a profound sorrow for the wounds inflicted upon some children and youth during the life of our Diocese. I hope you will find the information gathered here valuable to you, and I ask you to diligently work together with us to protect the children and young people entrusted to our care.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Alfred A. Schlert, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Allentown