Thursday, October 4, 2018
Communications Department - Archdiocese of Miami
October 4, 2018
Miami…Today, the Florida Attorney General announced a statewide investigation seeking additional information with the review of Florida’s Catholic dioceses’ policies and procedures for providing safe environments for children and vulnerable adults, along with its methodology of reporting of such abuses to law enforcement. As this effort moves forward, it is expected representatives of the attorney general’s staff will request, by subpoena, to examine diocesan files.
The Archdiocese of Miami (ADOM) welcomes these efforts as it is a continuation of our relationship and cooperation with the local state attorneys over these past 16 years. The archdiocese’s safe environment policy and procedures, established in 2002, state when an allegation of sexual abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult by a member of the clergy or church personnel is received, it is immediately reported to the appropriate county state attorney’s office (Broward, Miami-Dade or Monroe Counties). Along with a “zero tolerance” for such abuses, the ADOM maintains its abuse hotline for such allegations and complaints, 1 866-802-2873, which is posted on the website, www.miamiarch.org, along with the ADOM’s complete Safe Environment Policy, and the Department of Children and Families hotline number, 1 800-962-2873. All are posted under the website icon, “Protecting God’s Children”.
Per the ADOM policy, all employees (including clergy, seminarians, deacons), parents, volunteers, and vendors must be Level 2 background checked (FDLE, FBI) and cleared to work/volunteer in the archdiocese. Education and prevention are key to the Archdiocese of Miami’s safe environment policy and children as young as Pre-K to seniors in high school are provided “Teaching Boundaries” lessons in every Catholic School and CCD programs. Clergy, seminarians, deacons, parents, employees, and volunteers must attend a “Virtus Training” session, followed by monthly internet bulletins on how to keep your child/student safe, how to be aware of surroundings, and understand the pattern of grooming.
In addition, the ADOM’s safe environment policy designates a qualified person as the Victim Assistance Coordinator who immediately responds to the complainant and begins the process of psychological, pastoral assistance and guidance.
Since 2002, the Archdiocese of Miami has background checked and Virtus trained almost 150,000 people, trained over 200 Virtus facilitators (teachers) and have 167 safe environment local coordinators in parishes and schools.
With the Florida Attorney General's announcement today surrounding proactive and preventive policies and actions by the Archdiocese of Miami and other Catholic dioceses throughout the state of Florida can serve as guidelines for others.
Too often the media are reporting such horrendous details of abuse occurring in schools, nursing homes, neighborhoods, children’s after school programs and sports, even in families. Today, with the State Attorney’s announcement of the scope of this investigation is a recognition of this wide-spread societal problem.
Mary Ross Agosta
Director of Communications/Safe Environment
Archdiocese of Miami