Anew page on the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ website
seeks to provide context about the recent clergy sexual abuse scandal, including information on how allegations of abuse are investigated and other resources.
The page includes sections with an explanation of the investigation process, statements from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms and additional resources.
In a letter mailed to Catholic households in the archdiocese this week, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson offered an apology to those who have been abused by clergy and for those who have suffered because of the Church’s cover up of abuse.
“I apologize to all people whose faith has been shaken by this behavior,” he wrote.
Sandra Price, director of the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection, noted that the web page addresses questions that people have about how cases of abuse are handled as well as resources for those who have been hurt by abusive clergy. The page will be updated as more information becomes available, Price said. “We have put everything in one place that is easily accessible,” she said. “We want to make sure the faithful have accurate information.”
The page also includes information on preventative measures the archdiocese has taken to protect young people and vulnerable adults through its Safe Environment program. Some of those highlights include:
• 100,000 adults in ministry have been trained through the Safe Environment Program;
• 34,000 students in archdiocesan schools and parish schools of religion have received annual age-appropriate instruction in the Safe Touch curriculum to help protect themselves from potential abuse;
• 260 child safety coordinators at parishes and archdiocesan schools, who ensure employees and volunteers are in compliance with the Safe Environment program requirements;
• 175 facilitators teach the Protecting God’s Children workshops;
• 400 Protecting God’s Children workshops held annually.
In his letter, Archbishop Carlson addressed structures of accountability, noting that the archdiocese has taken “many steps” to ensure that abuse does not happen. He added that more should be done, including an invitation to Missouri’s attorney general to review the files and procedures in the archdiocese pertaining to sexual abuse.
The archbishop invited the attorney general “because Church leadership needs to be, and I am willing to be, transparent and accountable,” he wrote. “I have had and will continue to have conversations — as will all bishops around the country — about what further structures might be needed. Bishops need to do the hard work of overseeing the change that’s necessary to address the problems that have come to light. But we’ll need the help of many lay people to do that.”
To report any suspicion of abuse by any Church personnel, please contact local law enforcement or the Missouri Department of Social Service Child Abuse Neglect Hotline at 1 (800) 392-3738. In addition, anyone who has knowledge of sexual abuse or misconduct by a member of the clergy, employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese of St. Louis should call the Office of Child and Youth Protection at (314) 792-7704.