Archdiocese Contracts Out Morality Lessons

Training priests that sex abuse is wrong seems besides the point. The good priests already know this. The abusive priests don’t care. More importantly, who is going to teach the Bishops that they shouldn’t cover up sex abuse?

This is just another PR move. They are getting out in front of the very real shortcomings of the Safe Environment Program.

“Bucks Non-Profit to Train Clergy,” by James McGinnis, May 24, 2011

27 thoughts on “Archdiocese Contracts Out Morality Lessons

  1. The heart of this program is the training but also the genuine sincerity to eliminate clergy sexual abuse of children from our church once and for all. That sincerity will be felt by the children and the People of God. Programs alone do not achieve that type of success.

    Time will tell how successful this program will be. We will be watching to see that its not all show and no action. Our trust levels are still leaning deeply in the negative direction.

    1. I agree. Awareness and training are a good thing. NOVA does a great job. The problem is a alot of priests and leadership were AWARE abuse was taking place not even suspicous but AWARE abuse was going on and did nothing. I think they need to do some role playing like in CPR courses were when they come upon the unconscious victim the first thing they do before they help the victim is tell a passerby “to call 911”. I think they should do the same. If a priest or lay person come upon a child abuse situation they need to be taught “call the child abuse hotline” now. Priests and leadership also need some sympathy training , how to deal with peer pressure training and also there needs to be amnesty for any priest that reports abuse. Also consequences for not doing so if they know for a fact abuse is taking place both from the church and outside the church. Many were AWARE and did nothing. You address the reasons for this lack of response and action you have the solution.

  2. Perhaps contracting out morality lessons is a good thing. If the clergy will learn anything, they will not learn it from one another. Perhaps real people, of all stripes, can bring the clergy into the real world.

    And, once we KNOW they have been trained, there is no excuse! We need to know that THEY know what a millstone in the 21st Century really is.

    Most importantly, we must bring the feet of all clergy to the fire and keep them there. They must know that the Faithful are no longer to be trifled with.

  3. The bishops have been disingenuous so many times in the past, I do not trust them.

    As far as the bishops are concerned, the program is primarily to protect themselves, e.g., save face, improve public opinion, and present a better impression in the up coming legal proceedings. It’s all about them, and the Church’s image.

    If children’s safety is enhanced by the program, and I hope it is, that will simply be a spinoff from the bishop’s own attempts at self-preservation.

    These are not altruistic men of virtue. This is the not Jerry Lewis Telethon; “Do It For The Kids.” These are bishops, who “DO IT TO THE KIDS!”

    DISCLAIMER – This is the option of a person who views most bishops as the very dregs of the earth, at best, and hard core criminals at worst.

  4. Will every single seminarian, priest, monsignor, bishop and archbishop be required to take the training or only teachers and volunteers as in past child safety trainings?

  5. I know that this training is concerning the Child Protective Services Act mandatory reporting requirement. Here is the current process as outlined by the Archdioceses in the steps for reporting abuse/suspicion of abuse:

    The person in charge of the institution or parish must be notified.

    Child Line (the statewide child abuse hotline) must be called at 1-800-932-0313 to make a formal report.

    The Office of Child and Youth Protection in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia must be notified at 1-888-800-8780.

    When allegations are against an employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, local law enforcement authorities are notified.

    The person in charge of the institution/parish is designated as the first to be contacted. Does it mean that the pastor is being notified that the authorites are being called or the pastor is being notified in order to seek permisssion/approval for the authorities to be called?
    If I am a school nurse and a young child is showing signs of physical trauma on their body from being abused at home,why am I notifying the pastor prior to Child Line/police?

  6. Who will train the bishops on leadership?

    When Cardinal Rigali spoke of priest offenders and referred to the “millstone around one’s neck and being tossed into the sea,” I felt stunned. Does he not get it? He and his fellow negligent bishops need to get measured for millstones!

  7. Why does the ‘rcc’ who claims to be the ‘fountain head of morality ‘ need to take classes on morality ? Just more PR ! Until the laws are changed the faithful are up against a ‘stacked deck’ !

  8. The example I used of obvious signs of abuse isn’t always the case.What if a child alludes/drops hints to a trusted teacher of being the victim of abuse?There is no clear cut physical evidence, but the teacher feels it needs to be explored by child welfare.Who makes the decision? The pastor? This is where opinions will vary widely.One pastor could dismiss it for not enough evidence of abuse .Another pastor could feel it is their duty to contact child welfare.And why are the pastors, who often do not even know the kids,the ones making these decisions?

  9. I have made quite a few reports of suspected child abuse and neglect as a director of religious education. I always notify my pastor that I am doing so but don’t ask permission to do so. As a mandated reporter, I am required to take action. I have encountered pastors who told me that I was over reacting as well as school personnel who said, “Nothing ever happens,” when such a report is made. Nonetheless–when I encounter a child who is evidently abused or neglected, I will call childline.

  10. Molly
    What you wrote about pastors telling you that you were over reacting is exactly my concern.If a young inexperienced teacher/staff brought a concern to a pastor’s attention and was dismissed-where does it go from there? That is the problem.

    1. I don’t think mandated reporters are going to be instructed to report to the pastor. That is not the law in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And believe me, if this is what the training is about I will make a lot of fuss about that.

  11. More training? Maybe this is the problem. Jesus did not train his apostles. He led by example. Here is the predicament. As Jesus was sinless, he could not lead by example regarding confessing one’s wrongs and making amends. Pity the poor leaderless Justin Rigali. If he made an honest examination of his conscience and saw his culpability, to whom could he turn? His predecessor Anthony Bevilacqua believed himself to be sinless, so Justin could not look to him for an example. Filled with guilt and shame, to whom could Justin turn to for leadership? In whose human footseps could he follow?

    Training? When it comes to confessing my wrongfulness, I was not trained by another man. I was led. He told me of how he had lusted in his marraige and he led me by example towards God’s grace and forgiveness.

    Here’s an idea:

    Dear Justin, I am a Catholic who has sinned with lust in my marriage. Come to my home for dinner, and in the privacy, comfort, and security of my home let me lead you to God’s Truthfulness and Forgiveness. I promise to lead with my weakness, my sinfulness, and you will be amazed before we are halfway through the dinner. You will know a new freedom…

  12. The training is for mandatory reporters. All who are mandatory reporters will attend the trainings. Within the Archiocese that is close to 22, 000 people. There are three agencies in the state that can do this trining. That is why NOVA is doing it. This has nothing to do with contracting our morality nor is this an awareness training. This is the identification of child abuse – who and why someone is a mandatory reporter and what the criminal penalties are for failure to report. I will not attempt to answer the questions posed above which outline proposed situations. The only thing I can suggest is that you become familiar with the Child Protective Servcies Act. If and when you are you will be able to answer not only the situational questions but also the questions regarding Archdiocesan Policy. It would take to long on here for me to answer your questions. The Child Protective Services Act outlines who is amandated reporter but does not mandate training. In reviewing the Archiocesan Safe Enviornment program over the last few months one of the suggestions that I made was to retrain all mandated reporters to ensure consistency and the ability to hold people accountablle. I am sure that someone wil have a problem with this comment but I provide these facts to be helpful

    Mary Achilles

    1. Mary, I welcome your input here and I don’t envy your job. Is a Bishop a mandatory reporter? Does that come into conflict with Canon Law? I don’t doubt that NOVA is highly qualified or that it is necessary to have training in recognizing and reporting child abuse. I actually believe every human being should be a mandatory reporter. It’s just that this training doesn’t address the biggest concern – some of our bishops and their moral leadership. Granted, if they are circumvented a great deal is solved. Thank you again for responding. I hope all will be respectful.

    2. Mary
      Thank you for responding.I attempted to clarify what the purpose of the training was in my initial comment on this post.
      I realize that if a teacher/employee of an institution is going to make a report of abuse/suspected abuse it would make sense to also alert the school/parish that a report is being made.The difference-which is an enormous difference is to whether the employee is simply alerting the parish that they have made a report or is seeking permission to make a report.
      So many of the things that we discuss on this site are from problems that have already been communicated to us by those within the Archdiocese.It seems that there is a discrepancy between an employee having the right to file a report without seeking permission.We have had this communicated to us Mary,along with many other “glitches” in the system.
      Under the current Child Protective Services Act,it highlights alerting the head of an instition if abuse is supected. it also states the following:
      c) Notwithstanding subsection (a), nothing in this chapter prohibits an employe who is a required reporter from making a report directly to ChildLine.
      I hope this training will clarify for everybody who is a mandatory reporter and what their rights/duties are.I think this training is necessary because again,there is confusion on the chain of command that some have communicated has interfered with the process.
      This training along with the Safety Environment training are both ways that children can be better protected.Although the programs are helpful,they are only part of the solution.The key to keeping children safe is the commitment of the Archdiocese. That starts from the top down.
      As a parent,I have had to have criminal backgrounds checks and training to volunteer in a crowded school lunchroom with 100 kids,others teachers and volunteers.Only to learn that although I needed to go through this process for the protection of children,there were still clergy in the Archdiocese who had access to children who had very troubling allegations against them.I will go through any training to help protect children,but when I realize all of these efforts can be for nothing if kids are still put at risk by a hierarchy that seems to have not fulfilled their end in the past few years.That is a very real problem.

      Mary,your communications are most welcome,obviouly information in this situation can only be helpful.

    3. Although many have the same concerns pointed out by Susan and Kathy as do I. I would like to thankyou….. you are one of the few from the Archdiocese that have responded and I do appreciate your effort at commnication with this blog it is refreshing. I believe if all catholics work together things will change and our kids will be safer.

  13. Right on point Susan, “…this training doesn’t address the biggest concern – some of our bishops and their moral leadership. Granted, if they are circumvented a great deal is solved.”

    If this matter is in anyway left in the control of the bishops, the cover-up will never end. When it comes to doing the right thing, they have failed so many times that there is no credibility left. The bishops MUST be removed from the equation.

    We need Civil Law, not Canon Law; if this matter is going to be resolved Civil Law must trump Canon Law EVERY-TIME!

    However, I fear that our legislators are simply too timid due to the perceived political consequences.

  14. I agree with Kathy…that I will do whatever training is necessary to protect children. What bothers me, TERRIBLY, though, is that I feel like we’re just spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. I, and the thousands of other good, caring parents can do these mandatory things in order to be “safe” volunteers for our children’s schools while, at the same time, our clergy and hierarchy are completely ignoring all that is being told to us and allowing one another to continue to hurt our children. It actually sickens me. With these courses, most of the time, with us, you are preaching to the choir. The lessons need to be drilled into the heads of the ones BREAKING THE RULES….the clergy! You are investing in people who have been doing the right thing…..or trying to….when not stopped by employees of the Church. Please, Archdiocese, think about targeted morality training for YOUR OWN….basic RIGHT vs WRONG training. The clergy’s example (not all…I do not want to lump all priests into this same category), as pointed out by Buddy, has been horrendous. It’s like a parent sending a child for drug education while rolling a joint in front of them. I will happily meet the requirements needed to volunteer, as long as the REAL PROBLEM is being addressed. So far, it has not been. I hope that will change.

  15. These comments following Mary’s information,hit the nail on the head.Yes,any parent will attend training to better protect kids.The problem however is with the hierarchy not protecting our children.Somehow the hierarchy will continue to find any technicality or legality to get themselves out of a situation.Most of these programs are basically about common sense.That along with a sense of morality is what the hierarchy of the Archdiocese severely lacks.
    If children in my neighborhood were to come to me and tell me another neighbor was behaving strangely towards them – maybe saying some inappropriate things,texting them,lingering where the children play.I am calling the police and having them investigate.I am not going to refer to criminal penal codes,child protection charters etc….I am simply going to go with my gut and let the police handle it. Why? Because I have common sense and a moral obligation as an adult to protect children.You can give me all the training you want,but training doesn’t make me a responsible person – basic human decency does.

  16. Mary Achilles, from your post above:

    “….one of the suggestions that I made was to retrain all mandated reporters to ensure consistency and the ability to hold people accountablle…”

    Will you be holding the Bishops and the Cardinal accountable? Are they mandatory reporters?

  17. “Archdiocese Contracts Out Morality Lessons”

    Does this mean that the archdiocese will keep the training regarding “Amorality Lessons” in house?


    1. Not admitting of moral distinctions or judgments; neither moral nor immoral.
    2. Lacking moral sensibility; not caring about right and wrong

  18. Worked at Salesianum School 1979 – 1981. Principal and assistant principal were accused of molesting teens/child. Also worked at a summer camp in which two religious priests were accused of molesting teens in Penna.. One also worked later at Salesianum and along with another was involved with a different abuse suit. Two more from the same time frame are currently accused (1979-1987) from Salesianum in Philly. The one at camp was accused by the nephew of a Cardinal and the priest was in Philly. Both he and the principal were involved with boundary issues. At the camp I did ask the nurse about several campers – apparently they found no issues. Later, I was approached by a counselor who saw sexual abuse – he reported it – but I told him to use another venue – outside the religious congregation. Guess I am going to H— for that one.

    Wife cared for kids in an after school program. Heather was raped and murdered a block away from my house in 1987. In 1989 Furmanski was sent to St Martin’s, the church that Heather belonged. We were worried about a stranger while a priest with that type of history was sent to our parish.

    I worked at Delta School that did have students that spent time at St. Gabs. These kids were emotionally challenged and had enough problems – yet a priest was sent that abused kids to St Gabs.

    Just part of what I have experienced and realized that I will never trust The RCC and hopefully this program isn’t going to address just those chain of command issues, but how to address issues when the hierarchy is involved. I know there are good priests, but we need to give them the support needed. A few priests could not get the support they needed and the 1985 report stated that this problem would fester if not addressed. Also, what is the chain of command as far as religious priests – parish(religious) priests not listed if they abuse ?

    So God Speed Mary Achilles in your ministry. Just tired of watching the victims falling through the cracks – I mean the canyons out there. Hopefully we remember that there are souls out there, Canon Law is a minimum and civil law is there to keep the peace, none of them can address the damage to one’s soul or to God’s body.

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