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THE POLICY ON PRIESTS AND SEXUAL ABUSE

"It is the policy of the Diocese that the abuse of a minor, including sexual abuse, by persons employed by or volunteering services to the Diocese is contrary to Christian principles and is not tolerated. All personnel must comply with applicable state and local laws regarding incidents of actual or suspected abuse, including sexual abuse, and with the procedures in this policy.

Therefore, the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix makes serious efforts to: (a) prevent child abuse through education of clergy and laity, (b) help repair whatever damage has been done due to abuse, and (c) offer the healing ministry and pastoral care of the Church to those who will accept it.

When individuals make reports to the Diocese on the conduct of a priest whom they believe is guilty of the abuse of a minor, the Diocese requests full disclosure of any facts they might have. This includes the name, address and telephone number of the preson making the allegation, and if possible the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the victim(s). As a general rule, no action is taken against a priest on the basis of anonymous and unspecified information.

Priests have a responsibility, while developing a good rapport with minors, to avoid behavior which can give rise to confusion and misunderstanding. For example, priests are:

To avoid activities that involve excessive physical contact with minors (e.g., wrestling, tickling, and other physical "horseplay");

Not to have minors (who are not members of the priest's family) in their rooms, nor are they to permit minors to stay overnight at their rectory or residence unless the minor's parents or other adult family members are present;

Not to go on vacation with minors (who are not members of the priest's family) unless parents or other adults are present;

Avoid field trips or other outings involving minors in places and situations where no other adults are present.

All complaints are to be treated as confidential. Therefore the Diocese neither confirms nor denies to the media:

The identity of any person communicating an allegation;
The identity of the minor;
That a complaint has been made against a particular person until such time as the person has been charged by the civil authorities.

Pastoral outreach to the minor and his or her family:
1. After the complaint has been reported and the names of the child's parents are known, the Bishop or his delegate contacts the parents on behalf of the Diocese.

2. Pastoral and professional care
As a general rule, the Diocese offers pastoral care, a medical evaluation and professional counseling to the minor, as well as pastoral care and professional counseling for his or her parents.

The Diocese, as a general rule, assumes the cost for this assistance for a reasonable amount of time. In the case of a religious or non-incardinated priest, the Diocese can ask his religious community or home diocese to share the expense.

Some of the elements that help shape the Bishop's decision [on the future of accused priests] are:

The outcome of proceedings in the civil courts;
The advice and judgment of professional counselors who have treated the priest;

The well-being of those ministered to by the Church;
The best interests of the Church.
When a priest is convicted of a crime arising out of the sexual abuse of a minor, or if the Diocese through its internal investigation determines that the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred, the Diocese as a general rule initiates an ecclesiastical process which can result in canonical consequences up to and including dismissal from the clerical state.

The Diocese may require ongoing treatment, evaluation and supervision for the priest.

When a priest is convicted of a crime arising out of the sexual abuse of a minor, or the Diocese through its internal investigation determines that the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred, the priest's permission to minister in the Diocese is withdrawn.

The Diocese does not accept for ministry a . . . priest whom it knows to have sexually abused a minor.

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