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CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF MEMPHIS VICTIM ASSISTANCE

The Office for Professional Responsibility Child & Youth Protection Victim Assistance provides response to allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy. It provides psychological, spiritual and outreach assistance to victims. It promotes awareness and education of the Catholic and non-Catholic community of child sexual abuse.

If you suspect that a child is in imminent danger, please call 911 immediately.

If you suspect sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric, church worker or volunteer: FIRST, call the TN Child Abuse Hotline 1-877-237-0004 and/or your local law enforcement agency — THEN, call the diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator 901-652-4066.

The Catholic Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee encourages all victims, or parents of minors who are victims, of sexual abuse by a bishop, priest, deacon or diocesan employee or agent, to report such abuse.  Helpful contact numbers are listed below:

  • Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline (1-877-237-0004)
  • Victim Assistance Coordinator (901-652-4066)
  • Dir. of Child and Youth Protection (901-359-2027)

All reports will be treated in a confidential manner. The Diocese of Memphis offers a program of psychological and spiritual assistance to abused victims in need.

VIRTUS

The word virtus derives from Latin, and means valor, moral strength, excellence, and worth. In ancient times, virtus denoted a way of live and manner of behavior that always aspired to the highest, most positive attributes of people and aspects of human interaction. VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote “rightdoing” within religions organizations. The VIRTUS programs empower organizations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church.

The national Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. (National Catholic) created the VIRTUS programs. Monsignor Kevin McCoy, past board chairman of National Catholic, asked whether child sexual abuse could be prevented, and if so, how? In March of 1998, National Catholic invited prominent national experts—experts in many disciplines—to discuss these questions at a forum in Washington, D.C. From those discussions, the initiative for the VIRTUS programs was created. The National Catholic Board of Directors selected an Ad Hoc Committee to oversee development of the programs. The Ad Hoc Committee was assisted by a steering committee of nationally known experts and program service providers.

The Protecting God’s Children program is the VIRTUS program for protecting children from child sexual abuse. The program consists of many components. The education component helps prevent child sexual abuse by first making every adult employee and volunteer aware of the issues surrounding child sexual abuse. This includes awareness of the many ways that sexual abuse harms its victims, their families, the parish, and the community. The awareness session also helps adults learn to recognize the warning signs of abuse and shows them the appropriate way to respond to suspicious behavior. Finally, the awareness session empowers each person with five steps to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Content taken from VIRTUS website. Please visit www.virtus.org for more information.

BACKGROUND SCREENING

As Christian adults, we have a moral and legal responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional, and physical well being of children and adults. As they participate in activities within or sponsored by our diocese, schools or parishes, it is our responsibility and commitment to provide an environment which is safe and nurturing.

Because of the gravely serious nature of allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by Church personnel, it is important that all personnel be informed about diocesan policy on performing background checks, how we are working to prevent abuse, and the procedures that are followed when reports of abuse or sexual misconduct by Church personnel are received.

SCREENING REQUIREMENTS

Background screening will include (but may not be limited to) the following people within the diocese:

All priests, deacons, and candidates for ordination.
Chancery administrative and professional staff.
All Catholic Charities staff. Catholic Charities volunteers who have regular (i.e., three or more hours each month) contact with minors.
All Catholic Charities shelter employees and volunteers, with the exception of volunteer shelter meal providers.
All other paid staff members who have regular (i.e., three or more hours each month) contact with minors.
All coaches and volunteers who have regular (i.e., three or more hours each month) contact with minors, senior citizens, persons who habitually lack the use of reason and developmentally disabled people of the parishes and schools, including, but not limited to, volunteers in programs such as religious education, youth ministry, various youth sporting and camping activities, et cetera.
Those programs which are not administered by the parish (Boy Scouts, volunteer groups, et cetera), must also be screened if the activity takes place on the parish or school grounds.
Note:  Contract employees, such as lawn mowing services, temporary office help, et cetera, are not required to be screened. However, it is recommended that parishes and schools check with contract companies to learn more about their screening practices.
All current staff and potential employees, as well as volunteers who have regular (i.e., three hours or more per month) contact with children will also undergo a Child Abuse Registry Check through the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

WHO WILL BE PERMITTED TO SERVE?
 

DISQUALIFYING OFFENSES

No person may serve with youth, children or the elderly who has ever been convicted of any disqualifying offense, been on probation or received deferred adjudication for any disqualifying offense, or has presently pending any criminal charges of any disqualifying offense before a determination of guilt is made including any person who is presently on deferred adjudication.

Disqualifying offenses are as follows, but not limited to:

A felony or misdemeanor classified as an offense against the person or family or involves an offense against the person or family.
Examples: Offenses against the person include, but are not limited to: murder, assault, sexual assault, injury to a child, and abandoning or intentionally or recklessly endangering a child.
Offenses against the family include, but are not limited to: bigamy, incest, and interference with child custody, enticing a child, and harboring a runaway child.
A felony or misdemeanor classified as an offense against public order or indecency.
Examples: Offenses against public order or indecency include, but are not limited to: prostitution, obscenity, sexual performance by a child, possession or promotion of child pornography, and disorderly conduct.
A felony or misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of more than six months constituting a violation of any law intended to control the possession or distribution of any substance considered a controlled substance.
Arrest leading to convictions for driving while intoxicated is NOT necessarily a disqualifying offense for employment or volunteering, but it may disqualify someone from driving a school bus, church vehicle or any other vehicle on church sponsored activities or events.

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in June of 2002, as part of an effort to address issues surrounding allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The above link provides the charter, revised in 2011. Visit www.usccb.org for more information concerning the U.S. Conference and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

National Review Board: Broaden the Scope of the Charter to Include Bishops

BALTIMORE—On Tuesday, November 13, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ independent lay advisory panel on the protection of children and young people delivered a special report to the body of U.S. bishops regarding the abuse crisis in the Church. In an address to the bishops who have gathered in Baltimore for the annual fall general assembly, National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., outlined key reforms and urged action. The report calls for broadening the scope of the Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People to include bishops; the publication of complete lists of credibly accused clergy in all dioceses; improving the audit process; and enhancing accountability for bishops regarding cases of abuse.

You can find the full report here: www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/upload/National-Review-Board-Special-Report-to-the-Body-of-Bishops-November-2018.pdf

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