A Letter from the Bishop
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In response to the unacceptable matter of sexual abuse by priests and others working on behalf of the Church, the Diocese of Palm Beach has joined with its sister dioceses in condemning this behavior and instituting procedures and programs to protect children and vulnerable adults. The Diocese of Palm Beach has pledged to promote healing for victims and continues to refine its efforts to provide a safe environment for all, through its Office of Safe Environment. The Diocese of Palm Beach follows the requirements set out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The USCCB regularly conducts audits in each Diocese and the Diocese of Palm Beach has been found to be in compliance in every instance. All staff and volunteers, including clergy and religious, go through criminal background checks and screening coordinated by the Office of Safe Environment. All are required to complete VIRTUS training and every staff person and volunteer is rescreened every five years. Any priest coming from outside the Diocese for a short period of time is required to present proof of good standing and priests who will be remaining for longer assignments must follow the same procedures as any other employee or volunteer.
All allegations of misconduct are investigated and any priest or other person found to be the subject of a credible allegation will be promptly removed from ministry. You may be sure that legal requirements for mandatory report of child abuse are followed and appropriate referrals are made to law enforcement authorities. Finally, the Diocese of Palm Beach follows the procedures of canon law in dealing with priests and others who have committed misconduct.
If you or someone you know, is a victim of sexual abuse by any person (clergy, religious or lay) acting on behalf of the Church, please contact us. The staff of the Office of Safe Environment is here to help anyone seeking assistance and wholeness. The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to promoting healing and reconciliation and responding effectively and responsibly to allegations of abuse.
I ask you to pray for victims who have suffered because of this abuse. May Almighty God bless our continued efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm.
With gratitude for your support and prayers in this and every matter, and with every prayerful wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
Bishop of Palm Beach
The Office of Safe Environments oversees the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. Recognizing that each individual is created by God, the Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to the safety and well-being of its children and vulnerable adults and implements procedures to minimize risk and barriers and to build and foster a culture of safe environment. The diocese does not tolerate abuse or neglect of anyone. It will comply with all obligations of civil and canon law; it will promote healing where it is needed, provide education, training and guidance when it is appropriate, and endeavor to prevent any abuse of minors or vulnerable adults with firm justice and mercy towards all.
Lessons Learned. A Time for the Church to Lead.
Sexual abuse by those in positions of influence and power continues in this country.
This is Op-Ed from Dr. Francesco Cesareo, the Chair of the National Review Board, which was printed in the media. The article highlights the efforts of dioceses in protecting children, and notes that secular organizations can learn from the practices of dioceses to better prevent abuse.
1. The Diocese of Palm Beach’s Office of Safe Environments is a resource for those in the community:
The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to the safety and protection of minors and vulnerable adults in its care. Visit www.diocesepb.org/safe-environments for information on policy and procedures, education, background screening, real life and online safety resources, parenting tips, and helpful websites. The Diocese has implemented numerous procedures to minimize risk, build barriers, and continue to foster a culture of safe environment.
2.Diocese of Palm Beach’s Commitment to the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults:
The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to the safety and protection of minors and vulnerable adults in its care. Victims of abuse by Church personnel (clergy, religious, employees, and volunteers) are encouraged to contact law enforcement. Victims may also contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (561) 775-9558 to begin the necessary emotional, psychological and spiritual healing. For more information on diocesan policies and procedures for reporting abuse, as well as to view the “USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” visit www.diocesepb.org/safe-environments.
3. Diocese of Palm Beach’s Dedication to Prevention of Abuse Through Training and Education of Adults
The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to the safety and protection of minors and vulnerable adults in its care. If you are interested in attending the VIRTUS adult education class, “Protecting God’s Children,” visit www.diocesepb.org/safe-environments and click on “Virtus Training” to find a session. All employees and volunteers that work with children are mandated to attend a session, but all parishioners are encouraged to participate.
4. Diocese of Palm Beach’s Dedication to Prevention of Abuse through Training and Education of Children
The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to the safety and protection of minors and vulnerable adults in its care. The prevention of child abuse is challenging and requires more than adult awareness, education, and training about the nature and scope of the problem. The “VIRTUS Teaching Safety – Empowering God’s Children” program enables the parents, teachers, catechists, and youth ministers to give minors the tools they need to protect themselves from those who might harm them. All children in the Diocese of Palm Beach parishes and schools are instructed biannually with tools that empower them in personal safety. To learn more, visit www.diocesepb.org/education-and-training-of-adults-children-and-youth.
5.Diocese of Palm Beach’s Commitment to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults:
The Diocese of Palm Beach is committed to the safety and protection of vulnerable adults in its care. Specific training is available for those who work with vulnerable adults (people over the age of 18 years, whose ability to perform normal activities of daily living are impaired due to a mental, emotional, long-term physical or developmental disability, or dysfunction, brain damage, or the infirmities of aging). Visit www.diocesepb.org/safe-environments and click on “Vulnerable Adults” to learn more. All volunteers that work with vulnerable adults are mandated to complete training, but all parishioners are encouraged to participate.
Read/print Lessons Learned. A Time for the Church to Lead
Read VIRTUS Protecting God’s Children for Adults: Safe Adults: What to Say and Do