Comprehensive and Sustained
The Archdiocese of Chicago created the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth (OPCY) in 2003 to bring together the various ministries within the archdiocese that had been operating to ensure the archdiocese is a safe place for children. The following offices work together to stay current on preventing and responding to child sexual abuse:
Office for Assistance Ministry (OAM) personnel reach out and extend supportive services to victims-survivors from the moment they come forward with an allegation of clergy sexual abuse. This includes traveling throughout the country Healing Garden at Holy Family Church in Chicago. with personnel from the Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review (CAIR) to meet with and listen to victims-survivors. OAM personnel also provide the opportunity for victims-survivors to get independent professional counseling from fully accredited therapists. Additionally, OAM personnel have worked in collaboration with victims-survivors to respond to their need for healing. This has led to the development of the Healing Garden, annual Mass for Hope and Healing and Pinwheel Service for Child Abuse Prevention, victim-survivor led peace circles, and the Healing Voices magazine. To date over 400 victims-survivors and family members have been served by OAM personnel.
Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review (CAIR) is headed by a lay professional who provides a compassionate and thorough process for receiving and investigating reports of child abuse against archdiocesan personnel. Archdiocese personnel notify public authorities of all reports of possible abuse of any kind and from any date, regardless of legal requirements.
- The Director of CAIR serves as staff for the Independent Review Board, which is an advisory board for the Cardinal. The Board’s main charges are ensuring the safety of children and determining a cleric’s fitness for ministry. Over 230 recorded Board meetings have been held. The Board has determined 296 allegations of abuse to be substantiated and determined 75 allegations of abuse to not be substantiated.
Safe Environment Office personnel provide resources to educate archdiocesan clergy, employees and volunteers on how to prevent child sexual abuse, how to recognize sex offender behavior and how to create safe environments for children and youth.
Since 2003 more than 3,700 training sessions in the archdiocese have been held training more than 263,000 adults.
- Archdiocesan parishes and schools are required to provide valuable training to children and youth on how to recognize, respond and report grooming or abuse.
- Safe Environment Office personnel also screen, through name-based background checks, all clergy, employees and volunteers. Office personnel also receive and review fingerprint results for school personnel.
- All employees and volunteers who work with children and youth in the archdiocese must submit a CANTS (Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking Systems) Form.
- All employees and volunteers in the archdiocese must abide by the archdiocese’s Code of Conduct.
- The archdiocese requires Mandated Reporter Training for all clergy, school personnel, religious education personnel, youth ministers and coaches as part of the archdiocese’s Safe Environment Compliance.
Priest Monitoring Program is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s stringent monitoring program of clergy with substantiated cases of sexual abuse against them. These men have been withdrawn from ministry and are prohibited from presenting themselves as a priest. They are required to comply with numerous restrictions to provide safety for the community, the program participants, and the Church.