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Diocese > About > Protecting Children

 Report a Concern

Childline.jpgAll Employees and volunteers who have identified, suspected, or self-reported child abuse by any person should immediately report the incident to ChildLine at ​1-800-932-0313 and then complete the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania CY 47 form.

After the report is made to ChildLine, the staff person or volunteer may discuss the ChildLine call with his or her supervisor, but the reporting individual must then notify the Bishop Delegate's Office of the mandated report in writing, via a copy of the CY 47 form.

Msgr. Raymond E. Riffle serves as Bishop Edward C. Malesic's delegate for matters of clergy and church personnel sexual misconduct. Paul Niemiec serves as the victim's assistance coordinator. Charles Quiggle serves as the safe environment coordinator.

  
  
  
  
  
Charles QuiggleSafe Environment Coordinator723 East Pittsburgh Street, Greensburg, PA 15601724-837-0901 ext. 1229724-552-1828
Msgr. Raymond E. RiffleDelegate for Matters of Clergy and Church Personnel Sexual Misconduct711 East Pittsburgh Street, Greensburg, PA 15601724-837-0901 ext. 1221724-552-1820
Paul NiemiecVictim's Assistance Coordinator711 East Pittsburgh Street, Greensburg PA 15601724-837-1840 ext. 1655724-837-4077

 A Letter from Bishop Malesic

March 9, 2016
A letter pertaining to the State Attorney General's Report regarding the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown

Dear Friends in Christ, 

As you are probably aware, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania published a report of the Thirty-Seventh Statewide Investigating Grand Jury on March 1, 2016. It reported the unconscionable behavior of clergy who abused children and young people in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and also addressed how diocesan and local civil officials responded to the evidence of abuse in the diocese.

To say I am disturbed by this report does not begin to describe my level of anger, shame and disgust with the findings. My heart goes out to all the victims whose traumatic experiences, perpetrated by predatory priests, have led to unbelievable pain. The report indicates that the reputation of the Church, sadly, was at times put before the needs of innocent children by people entrusted with their protection.

I pray for the victims of the abuse described in the Grand Jury Report and for all victims of clergy misconduct toward children and young people wherever and whenever it has occurred. I ask each of you reading this letter to pray for their healing from the sins and abuses committed against their innocence by our Church's spiritual leaders.

I am reminded of the statement of Our Lord: "For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light" (Luke 8:17). I believe that shedding light on dark situations will show us the path to walk forward because Jesus also said, "(T)he truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

The Grand Jury Report makes it clear that the investigative process was not an attempt to denigrate the good and noble faith of our Catholic Church. Yet many of us in the Church may feel some shame by association. This is natural. May we be strengthened by our faith in Jesus Christ.

In addition to the direct victims of clergy abuse, I am also praying for the victims' families, the faithful members of the Diocese of Altoona–Johnstown, its good priests and deacons, the outstanding employees and volunteers of the diocese, its parishioners, and for its shepherd, Bishop Mark Bartchak. May the People of God in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown continue on a forward path to ensure that what is detailed in that report never happens again. May they find their direction in Christ, the Good Shepherd.

I was a pastor before I was a bishop. I was a campus minister before I was a pastor. I was a member of a parish before I was ordained a priest. I was a young person before I took on the responsibilities of adulthood. I understand the vulnerabilities of those who are weak and defenseless. I accept the responsibility to protect and defend them.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, I have reviewed how our diocese deals with cases of clergy sexual misconduct with children and young people. I can assure you that no one is serving in active ministry as a priest or deacon in our diocese who has a credible accusation or has a criminal record related to child sexual abuse.

All clergy, employees and volunteers who work in the diocese, its parishes, schools or related entities have passed criminal background checks and successfully completed VIRTUS child protection training and mandated reporter training. Whether clergy or laity, employee or volunteer, every accusation of suspected child abuse will continue to be reported to PA ChildLine and local civil authorities for investigation according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I want to be very clear about this. Protecting children and young people who come to any of our parishes or church entities has been, and will continue to be, one of my top priorities. In fact, protecting children wherever they may be, in public or private schools, on playgrounds or in the family home, should be a top priority for all of us. This scourge of child abuse, which is so prevalent in our society, must be removed everywhere it exists. As members of the Church, we must offer the grace and healing of Jesus Christ to anyone harmed by the evil of child abuse.

We are all responsible for the care of children and young people and must always remain vigilant. If you see something, say something. If you suspect that a child or young person has been abused by anyone, you should contact ChildLine immediately at 1-800-932-0313. You can reach someone there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, if the suspected abuser is functioning in a parish, school or diocesan position as clergy, religious, paid staff or volunteer, you are also requested to contact the Bishop's Delegate for Matters of Sexual Misconduct only after you have called the ChildLine number and made a report there. The Bishop's Delegate may be reached at 724-837-0901, ext. 1221.

If you have ever been abused by a priest, deacon, employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Greensburg, please accept my heartfelt apology and sincere desire for your healing. Let us know if we can help you in any way. Please call the Bishop's Delegate, who will connect you with the Victim Assistance Coordinator for pastoral care.

Protecting children from abuse is our common responsibility. Not reporting suspected abuse, hiding it or ignoring it is not an option for any of us. May what has been recently revealed in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and other places never be repeated there or anywhere. May our children be safe in our churches, schools, institutions and homes. May we be ready to come to their assistance and defend them when they are in danger of any kind of abuse, whether sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse or neglect. Jesus said, "Let the children come to me." May no one, child or adult, be afraid to approach the Lord through any one of us as we exercise our ministries in God's Church.

Yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Edward C. Malesic, JCL
Bishop of Greensburg

 Protecting God's Children

​The Diocese of Greensburg, and dioceses across the country, has taken numerous actions to protect children from harm by anyone in church ministry.

Actions taken, in 2002, by the diocese were a continuation of the proactive commitment the Diocese of Greensburg had taken for decades prior to protect children and young people from sexual abuse by anyone connected to the Catholic Church.

In April 1985, under the leadership of the late Bishop William G. Connare, the diocese promulgated its first written policy on clergy sexual misconduct.

In September 1994, a new, more detailed policy on clergy sexual misconduct was promulgated by Bishop Anthony G. Bosco. With that policy, the diocese established a clergy sexual misconduct review board.

Immediately after the news of a child sexual abuse scandal in Boston made headlines, the diocesan policy was revised, in February 2002. As part of the revisions, the diocese established a Pastoral Care Team of diocesan representatives, and a mental health professional to offer guidance and support to families, parishes or church institutions affected by allegations of sexual misconduct by a priest.

The diocese's "zero-tolerance" policy went into effect in 2002.

Also in 2002, all diocesan priests were required to comply with Pennsylvania Acts 33 and 34the criminal record and child abuse background checks. If a priest from another state receives permission to minister in the diocese, he is required to complete and submit an FBI Fingerprint Form  FD-258 before beginning ministry.

A minor protection policy was established in the diocese in September 2003, for all church employees and volunteers who are in contact with minors. That policy, in part, required all employees and volunteers to comply with Pennsylvania Acts 33 and 34. The parishes are required to keep the clearances on file.

At that time the VIRTUS program, "Protecting God's Children" was implemented. VIRTUS, developed by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc., is required of all clergy, as well as employees and volunteers who have contact with children and young adults.

On Sep. 30, 2012, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt promulgated the "Code of P​astoral Conduct" for the Diocese of Greensburg. This code is designed to be a companion to the guidelines of the National Charter and to replace both the "Minor Protection Policy" and the "Policy of the Diocese of Greensburg for Clergy Sexual Misconduct." This "Code of Pastoral Conduct" was revised and promulgated by the Diocesan Bishop on Feb. 11, 2015, to maintain conformity with requirements of the 2014 Child Protection Services Law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The "Code of Pastoral Conduct" for the Diocese of Greensburg clearly sets forth standards and expectations for all those who act in the name of the diocese. This document applies to all bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay members of the Christian faithful who assist in providing pastoral care in the diocese.

Although this code cannot cover every aspect of every circumstance that one may encounter in the course of church related work, it should be seen as a concise enumeration of expected public and private behavioral standards for those working or volunteering in the parishes, schools and other entities within the Diocese of Greensburg.

The diocese has also been audited annually, since 2003, by the Gavin Group to ensure compliance with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

The diocese has been found to be in compliance with the charter in every audit.

Virtus.gif 

 Excellence Builds Trust

​VIRTUSwhich derives from Latin and means valor, moral strength, excellence and worthis the brand name that identifies best practice programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing, and promote correct actions in religious organizations.

This brand was developed by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc., and selected by the diocese because of its quality, and for the ability of the diocese to "train the trainer," and have those individuals train other people in the diocese.

At that time, the VIRTUS program, "Protecting God's Children" was implemented. The VIRTUS workshops help people recognize improper behavior.

A "Code of Pastoral Conduct" was implemented in the diocese on Sept. 30, 2012, for all clergy and church personnel who are in contact with minors and vulnerable adults. That code, in part, requires all clergy, paid employees and regular volunteers to comply with Pennsylvania Acts 33 and 34. The parishes are required to keep the clearances on file.

VIRTUS is required of all clergy, as well as employees and volunteers who have contact with children and young adults.

All individuals who must complete VIRTUS training have the option to attend a session locally at a diocesan location, or complete a session online.

The schedule of VIRTUS training sessions offered locally by the diocese can be found online, published in The Catholic Accent newspaper and listed in all parish bulletins.

 Register for a Course

​Please read the steps below, and view/print the full list of instructions for VIRTUS registration whether you've chose to participate in a local session or online session. Once you begin the registration process you will be prompted to select a local session or an online session.

  1. Before your first Protecting God's Children session, you must register with VIRTUS Online.
  2. Go to http://www.virtusonline.org
  3. On the left side of the screen, click the yellow link labeled Registration, to begin the registration.
  4. To proceed, click on Begin the registration process.
  5. Choose the name of your organization (Greensburg [PA], Diocese) from the pull-down menu by clicking the downward arrow and highlighting your organization.
  6. Once your organization is selected, click Select.

View and print the full list of registration instructions.

 

 VIRTUS Schedule

​ Below are the available VIRTUS sessions in the diocese. You can also take the course online at anytime.
  
  
  
Time
Note
  
VIRTUS Online ClassOnline
ANYTIME
Register Online

 The Code of Pastoral Conduct

This code is designed to be a companion to the guidelines of the National Charter, and to replace both the "Minor Protection Policy" and the "Policy of the Diocese of Greensburg for Clergy Sexual Misconduct."​

The "Code of Pastoral Conduct​" for the Diocese of Greensburg clearly sets forth standards and expectations for all those who act in the name of the diocese. This document applies to all bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay members of the Christian faithful who assist in providing  pastoral care in the diocese.

Although this code cannot cover every aspect of every circumstance that one may encounter in the course of church related work, it should be seen as a concise enumeration of expected public and private behavioral standards for those working or volunteering in the parishes, schools and other entities within the Diocese of Greensburg.

Read The Code of Pastoral Conduct.

 Executive Summary

Actions taken to Protect Children and Vulnerable Adults 1985 to Present

Who we are
The Diocese of Greensburg is one of eight separate Roman Catholic Dioceses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It does not share fiscal assets with any of the other dioceses in Pennsylvania or in the country, since the dioceses are all separate entities both in Canon and Civil law.  The Diocese of Greensburg is the second smallest Diocese in Pennsylvania, consisting of four counties —Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland — that are primarily rural with approximately 142,051 registered Catholics in our geographic territory.

The Diocese of Greensburg publishes separate, detailed, audited annual reports on its operating budget (the most recent was published in the Nov. 19, 2015, issue of The Catholic Accent, the diocesan newspaper), on The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Greensburg (the most recent in the Jan. 14, 2016, issue of The Catholic Accent) and for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg (March 19, 2015).  All of the Diocese of Greensburg's financial reports are audited by a firm independent of the diocese.  The complete reports are available from the Diocese upon request.

Read the full Executive Summary issued March 30, 2016.