Let us diligently work together to protect the children and young people entrusted to our care
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 ensure that those who have been abused or hurt will have an advocate. Our Diocese has reached out both pastorally and professionally, not only to victims, but also to their families who can be devastated by these offenses.
- A seven-person Diocesan Review Board was appointed to advise me in discharging my responsibilities involving the sexual abuse of minors by clerics. The Diocese is fortunate to have such highly qualified professional people as members of the Diocesan Review Board.
- 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 Compliance Charter 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.
- Through a program called Protecting God’s ChildrenTM, thousands of adults and volunteers in the Diocese together with priests, deacons, seminarians, Religious, diocesan employees, school principals and teachers have been trained on how to recognize child abuse if it has occurred and, significantly on how to prevent it before it happens.
- Separate safe environment programs have also been instituted for students in our schools and parish religious education programs and for their parents.
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 John O. Barres