Renewing our Commitment

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

In an effort to raise awareness of the suffering caused by child abuse and neglect, Congress and the President designated April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983. Since that time religious, public service, philanthropic and other organizations that care deeply for the welfare of children have marked April as a special time for highlighting and renewing their commitments to the care and protection of children and young people.

As your Bishop nothing is more important to my pastoral mission than to provide the utmost care for those who need it most. From counseling the needy to extending financial aid to caregivers, our Church and Diocese are committed to the physical, spiritual and social well-being of everyone we encounter. This is particularly true for the children we seek to support, guide and care for.

It is important to me and our diocese that we mark this national observance by recalling and reinforcing our steadfast commitment to creating and maintaining safe environments for children in our schools, parishes and other facilities. The Diocese of Orange takes this task very seriously, as does the broader Church. We employ a comprehensive background screening for all adults likely to be in contact with children – already over 75,000 have been vetted. This process allows for the collection of a wide variety of past screening data, including extensive backgrounds checks and fingerprinting, and is designed to enhance already in-place diocesan policies.

Our diocese additionally requires all clergy, employees, and volunteers to undergo Safe Environment Training. In 2014 alone, the Diocese trained 286 priests, 115 deacons, 1,664 teachers, and more than 25,519 school employees and volunteers. Our schools and Religious Education classes at parishes and diocesan centers also provide Safe Environment education for children. This procedure is suited to their age and level of understanding. In 2014, nearly 44,000 children participated in this critically important awareness program.

Please join me in recognizing the tireless efforts put forth by those involved in the development and implementation of all initiatives for the protection of children and young people. Keep them in your prayers and remember that care for others is a duty and a gift. By sharing our concern and becoming responsible for the safety and well-being of those who come into our care is a spiritual act we can be proud of, every day.

The Church has worked hard to protect children and remains vigilant in protecting and caring for our most cherished resource. Much has been done, but more needs to be done. Until abuse is no longer a part of society, I and our Church will continue these efforts to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults.