History of Protection of Minors Programs

Jesus wit children statue

Program Development

In August 2002, at its annual National Assembly, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) embarked upon a long-term program of education and accountability to honor and fulfill the standards set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in the landmark document, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and applied in the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, which became particular law for the United States when the Norms received a recognitio from the Holy See in 2006.

CMSM issued a statement pledging to have in place:

  • Mechanisms to respond promptly to any allegation of sexual abuse.
  • Independent review boards, either singly or in union with others.
  • Mechanisms of public accountability from outside the leadership of institutes.
  • Educational programs for the protection of children and the prevention of abuse.
  • More effective methods of intervention, care, treatment and follow-up supervision of members in need of this care.
  • Programs of healing, reconciliation and wellness for all those affected by sexual abuse through dialogue with appropriate groups

In February 2003, the National Board of the CMSM formally endorsed a program, through a partnership with the Christian Brothers Risk Management Services and its recommended service provider, Praesidium Religious Services, to implement the  goals set forth in the 2002 CMSM pledge for child protection.

CMSM launched a program of large-scale organizational change at its August 2003 National Assembly, held in Louisville, Kentucky, called, Instruments of Hope and Healing -- Safeguarding Children and Young People.

The educational component of this program was completed in August 2004, with 209 religious institutes, societies of apostolic life and monasteries having participated in the Instruments of Hope and Healing program. That same year, Standards for Accreditation were published in partnership with Praesidium, and communities began to seek accreditation from Praesidium, Inc., for their child protection efforts. The Standards were revised in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Since 2005, CMSM has offered an annual Supervision Workshop for those working on youth protection and supervision in religious institutes of men.

At the 2013 Assembly of the Conference, CMSM members considered and approved a new statement on child protection, entitled Eleven Years of Work and Reflection by United States Male Religious on the Tragedy of Sexual Abuse within the Catholic Church

In 2014, a National Advisory Council was established.

In 2016, the Standards for Accreditation were amended to include more recent information. In 2017, CMSM established the position of Associate Director for the Protection of Minors. In October 2018, CMSM issued a statement on the release of names of those with established allegations. In 2019, CMSM launched a new webinar education series for its members and their safeguarding teams. A director of safeguarding initiatives oversees safeguarding efforts, including resource development, training, and consultation.