To fulfill the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People– namely, the promise to protect children and promote healing of victims-survivors of clerical sexual abuse.
To accomplish this, the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth (OPCY) houses the offices and programs listed. In the last few years, OPCY had begun to share its knowledge about child protection with educational institutions, other religious denominations, and agencies to make a difference in the lives of children and society at large.
OPCY opened in 2003. In 2006, the office was reorganized to include the Office of Assistance Ministry and Child Abuse Investigations and Review. The Safe Environment Office was created in 2007, and the Prayer and Penance Program was added in 2008.
The Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth in the Archdiocese of Chicago has final responsibility to ensure that the Archdiocese deals effectively, comprehensively and promptly with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, lay employees and volunteers.
The Director is responsible for assuring that the efforts of assistance ministry, legal counsel, vicars for priests, the child abuse investigation administrator, administrators in the Office for Catholic Schools, human resources and anyone else who might be involved in or relevant to an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor are engaged promptly and effectively.
- Resource clergy, educators, and archdiocesan employees and volunteers seeking assistance or information on reporting child abuse.
- Complete the Annual USCCB Audit compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
- Offer outreach for victims-survivors of clerical sexual abuse.
- Assist pastors and principals to monitor compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in preparing for the Annual USCCB Audit.
- Receive and review allegations of abuse against clerics, laypersons, and volunteers working in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
- Attend parish, school, and community meetings to provide information and/or speak about child abuse prevention.
- Provide child prevention resources for parents and caregivers on Children Matter Network.
- Monitor Archdiocesan priests removed from public ministry.
- Educate adults about child sexual abuse and how children are placed at risk in our society.
- Educate children about how they can protect themselves from people and circumstances that place them at risk of abuse.
- 200,000 children have received safe environment training in Catholic school religious education classes in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
- All archdiocesan clergy (priests and deacons) are in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, example: every priest has completed a background check, attended safe environment training on the sexual abuse of children, signed the Code of Conduct, and submitted a Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) form to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
- Over 113,200 adult employees and volunteers have had background checks.
- 3,700 Protecting God’s Children for Adults/Virtus training sessions have been conducted in the Archdiocese of Chicago since 2003.
- Over 120,000 adult employees and volunteers have attended Protecting God’s Children for Adults/Virtus training.
- The Archdiocese of Chicago, DCFS, and the State’s Attorneys’ Offices in Cook and Lake Counties work collaboratively on behalf of children who have been abused.
Mary Jane Doerr