Chaput’s Charter Revision Is Dangerous for Diocesan Kids

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced yesterday that Fr Christopher Lucas has been found unsuitable for ministry due to a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse. The abuse was alleged to have been perpetrated by Fr Lucas when he was a minor and before his ordination to the priesthhood.

Diocesan Deja Vu

The press release from the Archdiocese states that the allegation was received in the fall of 2018. During the past year that Fr Lucas was secretly under investigation for sex abuse, he was the school minister at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girl’s High School. He resided at St John the Baptist Parish in Manayunk.

As Archbishop Chaput’s days in Philadelphia come to an end shortly with his resignation upon his 75th birthday, part of his legacy will be that he knowingly exposed children and young people in the Archdiocese to priests under investigation for child sex abuse. Just as Fr John Meyers was left in ministry in 2018 at the Malvern Retreat House for seven months while under investigation, Fr Lucas was with children and young people for almost an entire year while secretly under investigation. He actually had double duty of being a school minister and residing at a parish. Double duty equals double danger.

Charter Changes: Children Shortchanged

In 2016, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was revised and an entire section entitled Initial Review was deleted from the Charter. This change to the Charter would have to have been approved by Archbishop Chaput. The Initial Review involved policy on how the Archdiocese Review Board would be informed of an allegation and first steps that would take place in an investigation. Of critical importance was the policy that the Review Board would advise Archbishop Chaput whether the interim actions recommended by the Vicar for Clergy, the Director of OCYP, and the Director of Investigations were appropriate to provide for the safety of children

The Review Board is no longer appraised of the recommendations made by this trio of Archdiocesan staff, therefore they make no recommendation to Chaput as to the safety of children during an investigation. It would seem that this missing step would be important as maybe with the Review Board involved in decision making, someone with a professional background, ounce of common sense, or a conscience, would speak up and explain that parents are the only ones who should be making safety decisions for their children. Instead, Msgr Daniel Sullivan, Leslie Davila OCYP, John Delaney Delegate of Investigations, and Archbishop Chaput make recommendations and decisions as to if the children of the Archdiocese will be exposed to a possibly dangerous person. Do you know these people who are making safety recommendations for your child?

Message Sent and Received

I had the chance to speak with young people in recent months about the practice of the Archdiocese allowing priests to stay in ministry with access to kids while secretly under investigation for child sex abuse. This practice differs from many other dioceses that place priests on administrative leave during an investigation for the safety of children and transparency to laity.

While the Archdiocese is currently examining the reasons why Church attendance has dropped so low and parishes may need to close, many young people simply no longer feel safe in the Church. No one at the Archdiocese seems to take the kids into consideration in their decision making. I have heard from young people about the message sent to them when the Archdiocese put them in a situation with a possibly dangerous priest, only to find out of the exposure in an Archdiocese press release when an investigation was completed. They did not matter, they do not matter.

Maybe the successor of Archbishop Chaput will improve child protection in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In the eight years that we have been working on child protection issues in the Archdiocese, this last year has absolutely shown us that things seem to be getting worse rather than better.

In the meantime the Archdiocese will continue to put all their efforts into making sure that the dangerous lunch mom volunteers have their background clearances in check, while the priest at the parish might be under investigation for child sex abuse. Not that we would know about the investigation.

15 thoughts on “Chaput’s Charter Revision Is Dangerous for Diocesan Kids

  1. I hate when they say …. abuse of ONE minor decades ago. REALLY … it’s more like 101 !!! And any priest, Bishop, cardinal etc who cover up and move around the abusers…. I’ve always believed that they are pedifiles themselves ! No normal straight man in the church would tolerate these crimes !!!

      1. I never mentioned the word gay in the discussion, I just said the word straight to emphasize that a normal man (not a pedifile) would not tolerate these crimes. However … you would have a tough sale getting the general public to believe that there’s no connection between gays and pedifiles. Of course not every gay man is a pedifile. I get that. But I’m sorry , I believe it’s an inescapable link !

  2. First, if you look at his assignments, you see the pattern. He was moved around a lot! Second, Philadelphia cannot be trusted with children. Even their brand new replacement for Safe Touch classes, KidTalk, advises adults– Mandated Reporters!– to tell “the head of the institution” when a child discloses abuse. Why? So the “head” can cover it up? Go to page 8: https://childyouthprotection.org/docs/KidTalkBinder2019.pdf

  3. Clean Start, I will bring this to the attention of Leslie Davila OCYP and Ken Gavin (Communications) and will print any response from them. It will most likely come from Ken since Leslie has not responded to any of our child or victim related emails in over a year. Thanks for your question and efforts in protecting children in the Archdiocese.

      1. This is the answer I received . I emailed again asking for further clarification because it does not seem to answer your question. Let me know if it makes sense to you based on the instruction on page 8 that you referenced. From Ken Gavin:

        “I am including excerpts from the policy below. As you can see, the first bullet under each, whether the abuser is connected to the Church or not, is to call ChildLine. The second bullet under each is to submit a written report to ChildLine. If the alleged abuser is connected to the Church, the person in charge of the institution must call the Office of Investigations. If the person in charge of the institution is the alleged abuser, the mandated reporter must call the Office of Investigations.

        This is a policy intended and designed to avoid any possible cover up. Notifying the person in charge of the institution makes that person aware of the allegation and gives that person the opportunity for an immediate, on-the-scene reaction to keep children safe. For example, the principal of a school might immediately remove the alleged accuser from the campus, etc.

        In all cases of suspected child abuse, Pennsylvania law and Archdiocesan policy state that mandated reporters are required to:

         Immediately report to ChildLine either electronically at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS or by calling 1-800-932-0313.

         Within 48-hours of the telephonic report, submit a CY 47 (Appendix F) to the Children and Youth services in the county where the suspected abuse occurred. A CY-47 may be completed electronically at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS

         Notify the person in charge of the institution, unless that person is the suspected abuser. If the person in charge of the institution is the suspected abuser, then the mandated reporter must promptly contact the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations toll free at 1-888-930-9010.

        In cases where the suspected abuser is a member of the clergy or is a Church official, employee or volunteer:

         Immediately Call ChildLine toll free at 1-800-932-0313.

         Within 48-hours of the telephonic report, submit a CY 47 (Appendix F) to the Children and Youth services in the county where the suspected abuse occurred. A CY-47 may be completed electronically at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS

         Notify the person in charge of the institution, unless they are the suspected abuser.

         The person in charge of the institution must promptly notify the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations toll free at 1-888-930-9010. If the person in charge of the institution is the suspected abuser the mandated reporter must contact the Office of Investigations.

        1. It does not make sense. Those are excerpts from Archdiocesan Policy, which is a totally different document than this KidTalk document. KidTalk is supposed to help teach children how to be safe. Shouldn’t the FIRST thing under the “Steps to Handling a Child’s Disclosure…Protect” say to “Immediately Call ChildLine?” If that’s the first step to protect, why leave it out of this important document that is supposed to teach volunteers how to prevent child abuse? ChildLine is NOT mentioned anywhere in this document. There is no reference to the Policy in this document. Mandated Reporter is not mentioned in this document. CCD teachers will teach from this and there’s no reinforcement from this document to follow Mandated Reporter laws. Why not? So, the CCD teacher sees this newest document and tells the “head of the institution.” And who would that be? Someone who has a vested interest in covering up the truth? If the abuser is a parent, probably not. But if the abuser is a member, or the Pastor of the institution? Most definitely.

          1. I agree. It makes no sense and someone will refer back to the last thing they read which in this case would be the Kids Talk document and go from there. It is too important of an issue for confusion which is why I asked for further clarification. Will let you know if I hear back from Ken Gavin. I also copied Leslie Davila OCYP on the emails but no response.

    1. Clean Start, Happy to report that your concern has made a difference. Thanks for being very informed and attentive. I received this reply from Leslie Davila:

      “Thank you for bringing the feedback you received regarding our new abuse prevention lessons for children in our religious education programs to my attention. The Archdiocesan policy specifies that mandated reporters should immediately report any suspicion of abuse directly to ChildLine as was outlined in Ken’s previous email. We have updated the KidTalk manual to reflect this policy and will communicate this clarification to all DREs to ensure that it is communicated to all catechists as well.

      I would be happy to speak directly with the commenter and/or the person connected to the DRE’s to address any of their questions. Please feel free to direct them to contact me”.

  4. I do know John Delaney of the recommendations committee – and he is an abuse survivor – and an incredibly-wonderful person. I do hope his recommendations go through, in spite of having to serve on and deal with a “committee”.

    1. Marybeth you have the wrong John Delaney. The John Delaney referenced in the post is the Delegate of Investigations for the Archdiocese. We know the survivor John Delaney and he would be on our “dream team” of survivors and advocates making recommendations for child safety in the Archdiocese but that will never happen. It has been confusing at times in some situations having John Delaney Archdiocese employee, and John Delaney the survivor, in the same diocese. The way we can tell them apart is that any interaction with John Delaney the survivor always leaves us with a big smile and a warm place in our heart for his passionate advocacy for children.

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