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The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young people is a landmark document drafted and passed unanimously by the bishops of the United States at their June meeting in Dallas in 2002. The document is a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church and is their "Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal."
There are four focus areas:
- To promote healing and reconciliation with victim survivors of sexual abuse.
- To guarantee an effective response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
- To ensure the accountability of our procedures.
- To protect the faithful in the future.
In order to protect the faithful in the future, Article 12 of the Charter states:
"Dioceses/eparchies will establish 'Safe Environment' programs. They will cooperate with parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children. Dioceses/ eparchies will make clear to clergy and all members of the community the standards of conduct for clergy and other persons in positions of trust with regard to sexual abuse."
This guideline, which mandates that all dioceses create a safe environment for children and young people who pray, study and worship in our schools and churches, is the basis for our diocesan safe environment programs.