As a new decade opens,
the Leadership Team for the International Organization of MLCs is initiating some significant projects to support the growth and development of our Lay Communities.
One is developing a sex abuse policy for our lay communities worldwide
. At the request of the Vatican Dicastery Office this past October, the International Organization presented a DRAFT proposal entitled "
Policy for the Protection of minors and vulnerable persons against sexual abuse in the Church."
When the Vatican first asked for our policy,
I wondered what our appropriate role was. Most of our lay communities do not employ people, nor do they provide ongoing ministry to children. But when we talked about it, we DO offer family events and retreats, and often arrange for volunteers to provide childcare for the adult programs we sponsor.
In a way, the policy becomes an educational tool for our communities
to raise awareness of our members about best practices for interacting with children who are not our own, for supporting people who are in current or past abusive relationships, and for knowing how to handle a situation if a friend confides some abuse incident to us.
We reviewed many sources to create our draft:
- Vatican Guidelines for Child Protection Statements
- Child Protection Policy for Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas (USA)
- Child Protection Policy for Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio (USA)
- Policies for Protection of Children and Vulnerable Persons, The Marianists, Province of the US.
- Articles from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Articles from National Catholic Reporter online
We wanted the policy to be substantive and informative.
We also wanted it to build upon current resources available through our local churches and dioceses so that we did not have to create programs from scratch.
We felt it was important for the policy to help remind us that our role
is to commit to the spiritual and emotional well-being of victims and their families by listening with patience and compassion to their experiences and concerns.
At the same time, ministry should be offered to abusers
so that every aspect is consistent with the need to provide a safe environment within our communities.
We are in the process now of sharing this document
with all the National Responsibles to get input from all countries about implementing this policy. It was written from a North American perspective, so we need to hear from other regions about what is possible in other areas of the world.
To read the Opening Statement in
French and our Asian languages
, use the normal translations buttons on our opening page above.
The policy itself is long
. Besides the Opening Statement it contains 3 main sections:
Code of Conduct
which describes behavioral expectations for appropriate and inappropriate ways of interacting with children who are not your own or vulnerable adults;
Prevention of Abuse
which describes recruitment, referral, hiring, and training practices for IO-MLC programming as well as describing signs of abuse and neglect in children; and
Response to Abuse Violations
which outlines the procedures for handling reports from people in our MLCs of actual or suspected abuse situations.
Readers, you can help us in the final development of this policy
by responding to these questions:
- How would you USE a policy like this with your MLC?
- What are the CHALLENGES of having a policy like this for your MLC?
- What might be the best way to INFORM and EDUCATE your MLC members about a policy like this?
Our International Leadership Team looks forward to hearing
from you on what we believe is a very important topic. Thanks so much for your input!