The Archdiocese of St. Louis said it fully supports Pope Francis in his call for action following the Vatican Summit for the Protection of Minors.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said the Archdiocese of St. Louis will continue to reach out to those with proper experience to help build on measures already in place to protect all people in accordance with what Pope Francis shared.
The archdiocese said it has many measures in place to prevent sexual abuse, including 100,000 adults in Catholic ministry trained in the Protecting God’s Children program, developed and instructed by VIRTUS representatives to educate participants to identify signs of sexual abuse.
Additionally, there are 34,000 K-nine archdiocesan students trained in the Safe Touch curriculum developed in partnership with the West County Psychological Associates and area educators to enable children to protect themselves from potential abuse.
A child safety coordinator also is employed by every archdiocesan parish and school to ensure employee and volunteer compliance with the Safe Environment policy requirements.
The archdiocese said real reform in the seminaries is already taking place, including the work of laypeople and psychologists in priestly formation to ensure a healthy, orthodox and biblically rooted understanding of human sexuality for future priests.
All employees and clerics within the archdiocese are instructed to never be alone with a child or vulnerable adult and all clergy, employees and volunteers are required to submit to a background check.
The archdiocese said suspicion of abuse by any church personnel should be immediately reported to local law enforcement or the Missouri Department of Social Services through the Child Abuse Neglect hotline: 1-800-392- 3738.
In addition, any suspicion of abuse also should be reported to the archdiocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection at 314-792-7704.
Investigations into all allegations are conducted promptly, thoroughly and in cooperation with civil authorities, officials said.
The archdiocese said it assists in the healing process for abuse victims through many measures, including access to a victim assistant coordinator, providing mental health care, pastoral care for themselves and family, other services based on need, and healing services.
A review of the archdiocesan “Safe Environment” protocols was conducted by a former member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was deemed to be appropriate and robust.
The archdiocese said it is currently working with a team led by a former FBI agent to review all records and create a list of all known clerics and consecrated religious personell who have had credible and substantiated accusations made against them.
Archbishop Carlson has invited Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and his office to review all records within the archdiocese, and the archdiocese is currently cooperating with the attorney general’s office in that review process.
“In my time here in St. Louis as archbishop, the archdiocese has always taken the protection of our children and youth as one of our highest priorities,” said Archbishop Carlson. “I welcome the Holy Father’s instruction to use all available means to ensure the safety of our children and vulnerable adults.
“While we have taken many steps to help prevent abuse, we continue to reach out to the laity with proper expertise to help us in creating new structures in prevention and accountability,” he said. “The archdiocese is committed to being present to victims and to be Christ’s help and healing for them.”