WRITTEN BY KATHY KANE
Essential Norm #12 From the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
“No priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a minor may be transferred for a ministerial assignment in another diocese/eparchy. Every bishop/eparch who receives a priest or deacon from outside his jurisdiction will obtain the necessary information regarding any past act of sexual abuse of a minor by the priest or deacon in question. Before such a diocesan/eparchial priest or deacon can be transferred for residence to another diocese/eparchy, his diocesan/eparchial bishop shall forward, in a confidential manner, to the bishop of the proposed place of residence any and all information concerning any act of sexual abuse of a minor and any other information indicating that he has been or may be a danger to children or young people. In the case of the assignment for residence of such a clerical member of an institute or a society into a local community within a diocese/eparchy, the major superior shall inform the diocesan/eparchial bishop and share with him in a manner respecting the limitations of confidentiality found in canon and civil law all information concerning any act of sexual abuse of a minor and any other information indicating that he has been or may be a danger to children or young people so that the bishop/eparch can make an informed judgment that suitable safeguards are in place for the protection of children and young people. This will be done with due recognition of the legitimate authority of the bishop/eparch; of the provisions of CIC, canon 678 (CCEO, canons 415 §1 and 554 §2), and of CIC, canon 679; and of the autonomy of the religious life (CIC, c. 586).”
A few years ago I did some research concerning Essential Norm 12. A spokesperson from the Office of Child Protection of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops explained it to me. This norm is refers to “removed” priests. An example would be those who have accepted a life of prayer and penance and might be moving into a residence located in another Diocese. Those residences could include community, convent or monastery with supervision. I was hoping it would include treatment centers such as St John Vianney, but it does not because those abusive priests are coming for treatment and not residence. This was confirmed by the Philadelphia Archdiocese Office of Child and Youth Protection.
So where in the norms does anything exist concerning protecting the children in the Diocese where the clergy treatment centers are located? Well there is nothing…because there are few remaining treatment centers like St Luke’s and SJVC. I was told that I brought up a good point and that I should write a letter to the Bishops.
So the question is, if abusive priests are coming into a Diocese for treatment but reside at the facility for many months, or even years, isn’t that now their residence? Especially if they have been removed from other programs and end up at the facility rather than on the street? Where is this other residence that exists that would not make the facility their actual residence?
Bigger question- Is the hierarchy of the Diocese where a clergy treatment center is located notified as to abusive priests coming into the Diocese, as they would need to be notified if the abusive priest was coming for residence. Is it possible that our hierarchy could be reading about these various troubled priests’ stories in newspapers and thinking “glad they aren’t in this Diocese,” when in reality that removed/arrested priest is on a plane, train, car heading here?
SJVC is not only located in the Philadelphia Archdiocese but is also owned and operated by the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Does this then make Archbishop Chaput technically in charge of the facility since it is under his jurisdiction? Is he notified and does he sign off on any child predatory patient that is accepted? Or is it a simple phone call to the facility from another Diocese and a driver is sent to the airport or a representative from their Diocese simply drives them here and Archdiocese headquarters has no clue and they leave it up the staff of the facility to make the determination?
Also when a priest’s faculties have been restricted by the Vatican or their Diocese, who is making sure that the restrictions are followed when they are in this Diocese for treatment?
I am sure if I had written the letter to the Bishops a few years ago it would have ended up in a trash can somewhere, but of course it is good to know that everyone always thinks that I bring up good points. There are gaps large enough to drive a truck through in these various child protection charters, and a kid vs. a truck is never a good scenario.