Protecting God’s Children
The Diocese of Greensburg, and Dioceses across the country, have 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 34 — the criminal record and child abuse background checks. Before a cleric from outside the Diocese receives permission to minister in the Diocese of Greensburg, he must present a current letter of suitability for ministry from his diocesan Bishop or religious superior that documents the cleric’s good standing.
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 “Diocesan Code of Pastoral 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 an independent audit firm 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.
Diocese of Greensburg Media Notice
August 9, 2018
The Diocese of Greensburg has posted its “2018 Progress Update on Protection of Children: Higher Standards of Today’s Catholic Church” to the diocesan newly updated website: www.dioceseofgreensburg.org.
This Diocese of Greensburg “2018 Progress Update on Protection of Children” includes details about our Higher Standards:
- We are sorry: A sincere and open apology to the survivors of sexual abuse and to all those impacted by the grievous failures of the Catholic Church.
- We are vigilant: The Diocese’s independent reviews of clergy files.
- We are constantly improving: The evolution of the Diocese of Greensburg’s youth protection policies.
- We are united: Youth protection policies in the Catholic Church at the national level — “Zero Tolerance.”
- We are committed: The many steps taken to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults in the Diocese.
- We are responsive: Diocesan response to recent allegations of abuse.
- We are caring: The support the Diocese offers to anyone who has suffered abuse, no matter when or where it occurred.
- We are hopeful: Our determination for the future.
- Today’s Catholic Church: A fact sheet about the Diocese of Greensburg.
The Diocese of Greensburg is providing the progress update in order to share the many steps it has taken over the last 30 years to protect the children, youth and vulnerable adults in our care. Though we have provided other updates in the past and have endeavored to keep people advised of our progress, given the public discourse and speculation engendered by the pending release of the Report of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, we believe it necessary to provide additional information about our continuing and ongoing efforts to develop, expand on and implement these important protections. This commitment by the Diocese is one of continued progress and improvement, as society has learned more about the causes of abuse and the impact it has on survivors.
The Diocese of Greensburg continues to support the public release of the Report of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. The facts must be made public if the Church and survivors are ever to move past this horrific scourge. The same day the Grand Jury Report was made public, we released a list of clergy in our Diocese with credible allegations against them on our website. The Diocese applauds and supports all of the survivors of abuse who have come forward to report what happened to them. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were or who the abusers were, the survivors’ scars and pain run deep.
That is why the Diocese of Greensburg believes it’s time to put today’s facts on the table. Despite what some people may think, today’s Catholic Church is committed to transparency. We have worked hard to remove any barriers that hinder people from coming forward about the abuse they’ve suffered and make sure it’s clear: Priests who have abused children have no place in our ministries.
The Diocese of Greensburg prays for all of the survivors of child sexual abuse and wants survivors to know that the Diocese always stands ready to help them in their healing.
The Diocese of Greensburg takes the protection of all children, young people and vulnerable adults seriously. Every report of suspected abuse of a child, young person or vulnerable adult — sexual, physical or emotional — that is made to the Diocese is immediately reported to the PA ChildLine and the appropriate District Attorney.
The Diocese of Greensburg continues to educate both children and adults in the parishes and schools of the Diocese on how to spot and report suspected abuse. The Diocese reiterates that if anyone suspects that a child, young person or vulnerable adult has been abused by any one at any time, the person should call the PA ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313, no matter when the suspected incident might have occurred.