Our Path to Reconciliation and Healing

logo_CoatofArms_CMYK-150x150.png

Our Path to Reconciliation and Healing Diocese of San Jose Recent news of abuse and misconduct in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and other places in the world has shaken our local community and eroded trust in the Church and its leadership. These events are horrific. We must review and if necessary, renew our efforts to heal all victims and others affected by these crimes and sins, bring perpetrators to justice and preclude further abuse.

The Diocese of San Jose remains committed to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. The Diocese of San Jose has long undertaken significant initiatives to protect all with whom we have contact.

Here follows a brief timeline of the development of our policies for the protection of children and vulnerable adults, a summary of our systemic efforts to ensure a safe environment. An outline of our response to accusations of abuse and misconduct highlight these efforts.

In 2002, the Bishops of the United States approved the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This charter provides guidelines for dioceses of the United States to address incidents of abuse and facilitate safe environments in our parishes, schools, and Catholic organizations where we worship, gather, and serve. It includes procedures for reconciliation, healing, and accountability. The Dallas Charter was updated and strengthened in 2005, 2011, and 2018.

The Diocese of San Jose has adopted and implemented the Dallas Charter. We have also successfully undergone annual audits to ensure compliance and ongoing growth and development in our efforts of protection.

In 2002, the Diocese of San Jose established the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. This office oversees and coordinates the pastoral care and outreach to victims of clergy sexual abuse (as well as other victims who may have been abused within parishes or Catholic institutions – here or in other dioceses). This outreach and care include counseling, support groups, spiritual assistance, and other support services. Throughout the years, we have had the service of Victim’s Assistance Coordinators, who organize these efforts and accompany victims through their healing.

The independent Diocesan Review Board was established in 2002. This board evaluates any allegation of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clergy (deacons, priests, and bishops), Church personnel or volunteers within the Diocese, even if civil authorities have chosen not to pursue legal action. The board also evaluates accusations of clergy sexual misconduct indicating violations of pastoral relationships.

Following its evaluation, the board advises the Bishop of San Jose regarding recommended action. The Diocesan Review Board is presently chaired by the Honorable Edward Panelli, a retired Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court; and includes other qualified lay persons and one pastor, as mandated by the Dallas Charter.

The Diocese of San Jose has ongoing programs to ensure screening and training of all clergy, diocesan employees, seminarians, and Church volunteers in Santa Clara County. All clergy, seminarians, employees, and volunteers must be fingerprinted and undergo a background check 2 before they can minister in the Diocese. Approximately 46,000 persons have been fingerprinted and undergone background screening since 2002.

Additionally, all clergy, employees and volunteers are required to undergo comprehensive “Safe Environment Training” every three years. The Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults coordinates and monitors this training. Over 46,000 persons have undergone “Safe Environment Training” in the Diocese since 2002. We provide age-appropriate safe environment training is also provided in our schools and catechetical programs. Additionally, the Diocese requires that employees complete training regarding sexual harassment and workplace conduct every three years.

While important, training and background checks cannot prevent all misconduct. All clergy, school personnel, and pastoral ministers are mandated reporters in the State of California and must report any suspected abuse immediately. When we receive an accusation of sexual abuse, we notify civil authorities immediately. The Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults then notifies the Bishop, the Vicar General, and the Chair of the Diocesan Review Board.

The Diocese of San Jose cooperates fully with any investigation.

The victim’s safety and care are the primary concerns, and a Victim’s Assistance Coordinator is assigned to facilitate an immediate response to the victim and family and coordinate ongoing care.

If the accusation is deemed “credible,” we remove the accused is removed from ministry, pending the results of further investigation. Following the civil investigation and any legal action, the Diocese will pursue further sanctions within the church.

As a diocese, we have adopted and exceeded national norms. Our churches and schools are much safer since the Dallas Charter was promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. Through the Charter, Catholic dioceses across the United States, including San Jose, have committed to conducting background checks for all persons who work with minors and vulnerable adults—and to training minors and adults to recognize signs of abuse and of grooming by sexual predators.

Although we are not perfect, our efforts help ensure that churches and schools in Santa Clara County are much safer. The Diocese of San Jose remains committed to the protection of all persons to whom we minister, to the facilitation of safe and healthy parishes, schools, and organizations, and to healthy pastoral relationships that foster each person’s relationship with our loving God. To that end, we will continue to review our policies and procedures to learn if there are ways that we may improve our efforts on behalf of children, youth and all vulnerable persons.

Pope Francis has asserted that “We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities….” He continues, “The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet, or silenced.” He calls us to prayer and penance: “Penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings.”

We continue to do all we can, through prayer and action, to promote reconciliation and healing for all who have suffered and to create a safe environment for every person.

August 31, 2018

Statement of Bishop Patrick J. McGrath - Pennsylvania

logo_CoatofArms_CMYK-150x150.png

Diocese of San Jose

 
The news this week of the historic sexual abuse of minors in six Pennsylvania dioceses is truly horrific.  Trust was first betrayed by these attacks on the innocent; however, the systematic cover-up and reassigning of these priests by their bishops and superiors is just as unforgivable.

As I have stated on many occasions, we – the Church and its ministers – must abide by a higher standard.  We are called to protect and keep safe children, the young and all vulnerable persons.   There can be no short-cuts, nothing that can excuse immoral and sinful acts. 

The Diocese of San Jose remains committed to protecting God’s children and to fostering the safest of environments in which to worship, learn and live.

I echo the bishops in Pennsylvania who have asked for forgiveness.  Yet we know that forgiveness does not absolve perpetrators of the consequences of these grave transgressions against the defenseless.

Finally, I ask you to pray for the victims and their families. I would also request that you pray for the vast majority of priests – present and past – who have been faithful in their ministry. They, too, grieve for the terrible stain of this sin that has harmed so many. 

May God bless you all.    

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

 

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement that he will retire has catapulted Roe v. Wade (the Supreme Court's landmark abortion case) into the news. Pro-abortion groups are pulling out all the stops to urge the U.S. Senate to reject any nominee who does not promise to publicly endorse Roe. And they are misrepresenting the legal and social reality of Roe and what would happen if it is overturned.

The upcoming Supreme Court vacancy provides us with yet another occasion requiring focused prayer. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support or oppose the confirmation of any presidential nominee. However, given this historic moment, the U.S. bishops are urging all people of good will to pray that a change in the U.S. Supreme Court may move our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life.

From Friday, August 3, 2018 to Friday, September 28, 2018, the weekly Call to Prayer will be adapted as a nine-week Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life. In addition to the current invitation to fast on Fridays, participants are encouraged to pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intention of the novena. 

Participants will also be provided with weekly opportunities to learn more about Roe v. Wade, and share that information with their representatives.

SFOA Support to Puerto Rico

Recently, the parish social justice team and a few parishioners made a $2,300 contribution to the Catholic Extension Society to support a needy parish in Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria. The Catholic Extension Society has the mission of supporting needy parishes and dioceses throughout the US. Catholic Extension thank the St. Francis of Assisi community with these words:

"In this time of great need for Puerto Rico, your support will help schools and churches that sustained incredible flooding get back on their feet. Because of your commitment to the mission of Catholic Extension, families ravaged by these hurricanes will begin to see signs of hope and start the long process of renewing their lives and their faith communities. You truly are a blessing."