In light of recent public discussion regarding the publishing of names of clergy accused of sexual abuse, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) has issued a letter to the leaders of U.S. institutes of men religious on the topic.
The letter, signed by Dominican Father Mark Padrez, CMSM president, and Capuchin Father John Pavlik, CMSM executive director, noted, “Since 2002, CMSM has sought to encourage best practices of members in the area of child protection.” The letter went on to say that CMSM recognizes each institute must make its own decision, and offered several points to consider in that discernment:
- Revisit this issue with consideration about what disclosure would mean for victims as well as your institute. You may wish to consult civil and canonical counsel.
- Reach out to and engage with bishops in areas where men who have been accused have served.
- Be cognizant of CMSM’s Standards of Accreditation and the USCCB’s Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchical Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacon that require that major superiors communicate information regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to the bishops where the abuse occurred and where the men reside.
- If publishing a list, consult with your canonical and civil counsel in its development. Please note that Praesidium’s Standards of Accreditation distinguish clearly between allegations that have been established and those that have not. An allegation is established when “there is objective certainty that the accusation is true and that an incident of sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.”
CMSM has actively worked to support healing and child safety policies since 2002. Its child protection efforts include education, a National Advisory Council composed primarily of lay experts, a commitment to prevention and healing, and standards of accreditation for religious institutes developed in partnership with Praesidium.
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (cmsm.org | @cmsmshares | @cmsmtweets) is the national organization supporting U.S. leaders of Roman Catholic men’s religious institutes, monastic communities, and societies of apostolic life. As the common voice for the leaders of these organizations, CMSM promotes dialogue and collaboration in service to over 16,000 religious priests and brothers in the United States.
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