Topic: Protection of Minors

Vatican Issues Worldwide Guidelines for Reporting Abuse

A new apostolic letter issued today by Pope Francis, Vox estis lux mundi, expands the Church’s response to abuse by establishing worldwide standards for reporting abuse against minors and vulnerable adults, including by bishops and religious superiors.

CMSM welcomes the guidance provided by the document and will undertake a review to ensure the national safeguarding standards for religious institutes of men in the United States reflect the new provisions in this document.

CMSM is committed to prevention, accountability, healing and reconciliation, and has worked since 2002 through its members, the leaders of men’s religious institutes, in partnership with other national organizations, to promote the protection of minors. Efforts include education, awareness, the development of national standards for religious institutes, a National Advisory Council of experts, and a Director of Safeguarding Initiatives.

New Director of Safeguarding Initiatives

Deacon Steven DeMartino is the new Director of Safeguarding Initiatives for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. He will focus on promoting and sustaining a culture of safety with men’s religious institutes in the United States, and will build upon safeguarding efforts undertaken by CMSM since 2002.

Deacon DeMartino is a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of New York. He has deep experience with priest wellness, and mental and behavioral health concerns.

He has been active in Chapter and Assembly facilitation for Religious institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, served on several review boards for Religious, provided consultation to leadership teams of Religious Institutes, taught at the seminary level, and is engaged in parish ministry and retreat work.

Prior positions include coordinator of the vocations office for the Catholic Foreign Missionary Association, assistant vice-president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, and leadership roles at several behavioral health care centers.

He holds a bachelor’s in psychology from SUNY Buffalo, and an MPA from CUNY Baruch College, and has several certifications in counseling. He has supported leadership teams and Religious in both planning and direct support on safeguarding.


All Chilean Bishops Offer Their Resignation to Pope Francis

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Bishops take unprecedented step in light of cover-ups associated with past sexual abuse of minors by priests

“We have placed our positions in the hands of the Holy Father so that he may freely decide with respect to each one of us”, said the bishops of Chile.

In an unprecedented move, the bishops of Chile have presented their resignation, this Friday, May 18, 2018, in the Holy See, at the end of the meetings held with the Holy Father in these days.

The 34 Chilean bishops have been meeting with Pope Francis in Rome from May 15 to 17 to “examine in depth their causes and consequences, as well as the mechanisms that have led in some cases to their cover-up and serious omissions towards the victims” , reported the Holy See in a statement , published on May 12.

Read the full article.

Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors Hears from Survivors

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The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met this week in Plenary Assembly in Rome.

The first day of the meeting was dedicated to hearing from members of the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission from England and Wales. The gathering was part of the PCPM’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that the thoughts and contributions of people who have been abused inform all aspects of the Commission’s work.

The visitors said that the experience of being listened to so carefully by the Commission members was empowering. They could see that their sharing, and putting victims first, had an impact on the Commission. Read the full article from Zenit.

Pope Asks Forgiveness to Chilean Bishops for ‘Serious Mistakes’ in Assessment of Situation

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Pope Francis has acknowledged “his serious errors” in the assessment and perception of the situation of the sexual abuses in Chile and has asked the Chilean bishops for forgiveness.

The Holy See published the unprecedented letter of the Pope, dated Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8, 2018, letter in Spanish on Wednesday evening, April 11 around 8:00 pm, in response to the report of his envoy to Chile, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta.  The Pope announces a future fraternal meeting in Rome to “to make the truth shine.”


Bankruptcy Court Approves Settlement Between Sexual Abuse Survivors and Crosier Order

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(Minneapolis, MN) – Today, sexual abuse survivors, attorneys, and members of the Crosier order appeared before Judge Robert J. Kressel in United States Bankruptcy Court in Minneapolis seeking approval of a consensual bankruptcy plan between sexual abuse survivors and the Crosiers.

Judge Kressel approved the proposed plan, but what made this hearing notable is the never-before-seen tenor between the Crosiers and survivors. After the bankruptcy plan was approved, Fr. Thomas Enneking, the Crosier Prior Provincial, offered a sincere and heartfelt apology to all of the sexual abuse survivors.

“The Crosiers and their attorneys helped build a model of transparency and accountability,” said Attorney Jeff Anderson. “The reality is that survivors can take comfort in knowing the Crosiers are not hiding offenders or their assets so this fair settlement could be reached.”

Anderson followed Fr. Enneking’s apology, commending survivors for their courage in speaking up. He also lauded Fr. Enneking for his heartfelt apology and expression of sorrow. Anderson promised he would convey this message to all of the sexual abuse survivors who were harmed and who could not be present in court today. He also commended the Crosiers and their attorneys, Bill Tipping and Rob Vaccaro, for the way they handled the sexual abuse claims over the past 20 years.

The settlement provides for the Crosiers to contribute approximately $5.7 million and its insurer to contribute approximately $19.7 million.

On June 1, 2017, the Crosiers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota. The Crosier order is a Roman Catholic religious order of priests and brothers with communities in Phoenix, Arizona and Onamia, Minnesota.

Pope Francis Appoints Members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

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Pope Francis has confirmed Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap. as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] and named sixteen (16) members to this advisory body, including nine new members.

The new members are: Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia); Sr. Arina Gonsalves, RJM (India); Hon. Neville Owen (Australia); Ms. Sinalelea Fe’ao (Tonga); Prof. Myriam Wijlens (Netherlands); Prof. Ernesto Caffo (Italy); Sr. Jane Bertelsen, FMDM (UK); Ms. Teresa Kettelkamp (USA) and Mr. Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo Dos Santos (Brazil).

The seven returning members are: Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines); Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera (Colombia); Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ (Germany); Prof. Hanna Suchocka (Poland); Sr. Kayula Lesa, RSC (Zambia) Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS (South Africa), and Msgr. Robert Oliver (USA).

Cardinal O’Malley stated: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given much prayerful consideration in nominating these members. The newly appointed members will add to the Commission’s global perspective in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.  The Holy Father has ensured continuity in the work of our Commission, which is to assist local churches throughout the world in their efforts to safeguard all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm.”

The Holy Father has chosen these eight women and eight men from a multi-disciplinary field of international experts in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from the crime of sexual abuse.  Representatives from several new countries will now offer their insights and experience to the Commission, reflecting the global reach of the Church and the challenge of creating safeguarding structures in diverse cultural contexts.

Victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse are included among the members announced today.  Since the Commission’s foundation, people who have suffered abuse and parents of victims/survivors have been members.  As has always been the Commission’s practice, the PCPM upholds the right of each person to disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so.  The members appointed today have chosen not do so publicly, but solely within the Commission.  The PCPM firmly believes that their privacy in this matter is to be respected.

Read more on the website for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Privately Meets, Cries With Victims of Sexual Abuse by Clergy in Chile

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from Zenit

by Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis alone met privately with several victims of sexual abuse by clergy on Tuesday evening, Jan. 17, 2018, at the Apostolic Nunciature in Santiago, Chile, reported Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, in a brief statement.

The Vatican spokesman also noted that the Pope “prayed and cried with them after hearing their experiences.”

Pope Francis is making his 22nd Apostolic Visit abroad, to Chile and Peru, Jan. 15-22, 2018.

In his first speech in the country, speaking to the nation’s authorities, Pope Francis expressed his “pain and shame’” for the “irreparable damage” caused to children by some priests in the Church.

In Chile, a country that has been scarred by the abuses that have caused tension and protests even up to and during the visit, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for these acts and appealed that “every effort” be done to help victims and to ensure that “such things do not happen again.”

CMSM Releases New Module, Hosts Webinars for ‘Conversations That Matter’ Series for the Protection of Minors

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The Case of “Father Tom” and supporting materials are available for purchase and download on the CMSM website.

As part of our 15-year effort of education and accountability among men’s institutes for religious life for the protection of minors in our church and society, CMSM is privileged to distribute the latest module in the excellent series “Conversations That Matter.”

Our newest module, “The Case of ‘Father Tom'” is a pseudonymous account of a real situation involving sexual abuse from a professed male religious. It includes a narration of “Father Tom’s” story along with discussion questions and didactics. The questions and key points have been crafted according to the needs of three key audiences:

  • Men in formation
  • Men currently living in Apostolic Life
  • Men living in a Retired Community

Each of these audiences has their own materials unique to them and constitute three different “kits” which can be purchased. To purchase downloadable and online resources for “The Case of ‘Father Tom’,” visit the Protection of Minors page on our website. Online purchases are completed through PayPal and you may use a PayPal account, debit card or credit card to complete the purchase.

The kits are $50 individually and you may purchase multiple kits for a discount. Once you have completed the checkout process through PayPal, you will be directed to a page on which you will receive information on how to access the materials. Please be sure to save the information on that landing page for future access if needed.

If you have questions, or would like to access previous “Conversations That Matter” modules, please contact Fr. Jerry McGlone, S.J. at the CMSM National Office by email or by phone at 301-588-4030 ext. 235 for additional information.

Training Webinars for use of the “Conversations That Matter” Materials

CMSM is also very proud to announce its first series from the Office of Child Protection Training Webinars: “The Dynamics of More Effective Facilitation: Conversations That Matter – 2018.”

Learn or enhance skills necessary to better facilitate these groundbreaking trainings.

This year’s trainings require attentive care and attention to three types of community conversations: formation, apostolic, and retirement.

The trainings will address these new dimensions and explore various practical techniques to enhance engagement and retention of materials.

Learn practical steps to help focus the materials, avoid problems, manage resistance and more effectively deal with problem people.

Dates and Times for the upcoming webinars are as follows. To register for either or both webinars, click on the links provided.

Tuesday , January 16, 2018 1 – 2 p.m. ET
Thursday, January 18, 2018 4 – 5 p.m. ET

These webinars are free and recordings of these trainings will be available after the event on the CMSM website.

Media Release: New Chair and Vice Chair Elected to the CMSM National Advisory Council

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Board and Officers of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) announce that the National Advisory Council (NAC) has elected a new Chair and Vice Chair

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary quality, expertise and generosity of these two new officers of the National Advisory Council. The NAC is similar to the National Review Board (NRB) of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). The NAC is an independent panel of nationally recognized experts who volunteer their time and which advises CMSM on all matters related to the protection of minors for religious institutes of men in and throughout the United States. Dr. Len Sperry will replace Dr. Kathleen McChesney as Chair and Steve Levatino will replace Dr. Rolando Diaz.

Len Sperry, M.D., Ph.D., D.Min. is Professor and Director of Clinical Training at Florida Atlantic University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is board certified in psychiatry, preventive medicine, and clinical psychology. He has consulted with religious orders and dioceses throughout the U.S. on the health and well-being of priests and other ministry personnel. Among his 1000+ professional publications are Sex, Priestly Ministry and the Church: Understanding and Treating Sexual Addiction and The Inner Life of Priests, both of which received best book of the year awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Steven Levatino, Esq. has practiced law since 1991 and has a wide breadth of experience in business law, litigation, and church law. He practiced as a partner in one of the largest firms in Texas for 13 years. He has had extensive experience prosecuting and defending sex abuse claims in state and federal court. He is rated as an AV Preeminent® attorney. AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional ability and ethical standards. He also has been elected as a Fellow to the Texas Bar Foundation. Membership in the foundation is reserved for the top 1/3 of 1% of Texas attorneys. Election to the Fellows is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Fr. Brian Terry, President of CMSM stated, “These are extraordinary and talented experts who have graciously offered their services to the religious of the United States and to the mission of the Church. The good work that happens here creates a ripple effect elsewhere throughout the world.”

Download the media release.