The National Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a landmark document announced by the U.S. Conference of Bishops in 2002. The document is a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Church and is their “Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal.”
Article 12 of the Charter mandates that all dioceses and eparchies establish safe environment programs to help protect children from sexual abuse and child molestation. It 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. Its four focus areas are the following:
- 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
This guideline is the basis for the Diocese of Orange Office of Child and Youth Protection’s safe environment program.