Accountability for the Protection of Youth
Committed to Safety, Healing, Reconciliation and Accountability
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has made great strides in fulfilling our promise to protect children, educate our communities, and bring healing to those who have suffered abuse. We also continue to make our churches and schools safer through partnerships and audits.
1. Protecting Children
Today, the Catholic Church has one of the most comprehensive screen processes for clergy, religious, seminarians, employees and volunteers working with our youth. We use this process at schools, parishes, and Catholic organizations.
- Face-to-Face Interviews
- Signing a code of ethics
- Reference Checks
- Criminal background check
- Annual training is required for those in ministry, staff and volunteers.
In addition, all clergy members, employees, and volunteers are also compared to the Arizona Sex Offender Registry Database on a continuous basis.
- If you are a minor who has been abused or if you suspect a minor of being abused, please contact law enforcement and the Department of Child Safety, (DCS). Non-emergency reports can be made to DCS online.
- If the person being accused of abuse is a priest or deacon, a consecrated man or woman, or an employee or volunteer of the Church, after reporting to law enforcement, please contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection at (602) 354-2396.
- If you are an adult who was abused as a child by a priest or deacon, a consecrated man or woman, or an employee or volunteer of the Church, please contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection to make a report. Arizona reporting law (ARS 13-3620) does not apply; however, you have the right to make a report to law enforcement. Reporting to law enforcement is highly encouraged, and the Office of Child and Youth Protection is here to support you in making your report.
- If the reported abuse took place in another diocese, we may contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection in that diocese to report and request assistance on your behalf. We encourage you to report to law enforcement in the jurisdiction in which the abuse occurred, and we are here to support you in making your report.
After a report is made, the person accused of abusing a minor will be immediately removed from any active ministries and placed on administrative leave. Law enforcement and the Church will open separate investigations. We are committed to cooperating in good faith with all law enforcement and Department of Child Safety investigations.
When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon is received, canon law requires an investigation be conducted promptly and objectively. When there is sufficient evidence that abuse has occurred, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is notified. [Read More
The Diocese of Phoenix will notify parish leadership and parish communities as soon as reasonably possible when a cleric serving there has been withdrawn from ministry because of credible allegation(s) of sexual misconduct with a minor(s).
In addition, parishes and the Diocese at large will be notified when a cleric who once served in the Diocese has had a credible allegation and/or has been arrested, indicted or convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor anywhere.
Parishes will also be notified when the Bishop returns a cleric to ministry due to a finding that such an allegation is unfounded; appropriate steps will be taken to restore the cleric’s good name.
A review board consisting primarily of lay professionals was established to review and make determinations regarding any allegations against clergy. The makeup of this board includes:
- A law enforcement officer
- A licensed psychologist
- A judge
- A medical professional
- A teacher
- A parish pastor
Every single priest or deacon against whom a credible allegation has been made is listed on the Diocese website, so that the public and community are aware.
- Diocese of Phoenix priests and deacons who have been laicized and/or removed from ministry due to sexual misconduct with a minor. View List
- Diocese of Phoenix Priests and Deacons who have been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor and have a Canonical case in process. View List
- Priests of religious communities who have served in the Diocese of Phoenix and have been laicized and/or removed from ministry by their communities due to sexual misconduct with a minor.View List
- Priests from other dioceses who may no longer serve in the Diocese of Phoenix due to an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor. View List
The U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, implemented in 2002, provided for the Diocese of Phoenix mandatory procedures and guidelines that are critical to these efforts. Learn More: Read Charter
When a criminal charge involving a minor is filed or a credible accusation against a member of the Church concerning a minor is established, the Diocese of Phoenix immediately alerts the public through a Community Notification Statement on its website. Learn More
“A consistent and competent system of prevention and response must not only remain present in the Church, but also continue to improve. Our faith, our parishioners, and the general public, demand nothing less.”
Deacon Bernie Nojadera
Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection
II. Safe Environment Education
Other areas that are key to keeping our young people safe include:
- Annually about 30,000 adults— including clergy, religious, employees and volunteers — are trained on safe environment and mandatory reporting requirements;
- Annually about 30,000 school and religious education students receive safe environment training, including how to recognize and report inappropriate behaviors
What do we learn in Safe Environment Training?
A safe environment is created when everyone within a community recognizes the same behaviors as acceptable or unacceptable. (Think of it as a “Catholic block watch.”)
Safe Environment Training:
- Defines healthy boundaries and policies to maintain safe environments;
- Upholds a culture of safety and the protection of all of God’s children from abuse;
- Increases awareness of the signs of grooming and/or child abuse; and
- Standardizes appropriate interactions between adults and minors.
Because of the Safe Environment Training that they receive at their parish, parents are able to advocate for child safety at schools, on sports teams, and other youth organizations.
“It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
The Diocese of Phoenix’s Office of Child and Youth Protection assists individuals and families who have been directly affected by sexual abuse, whether this abuse took place in the Diocese of Phoenix or the dioceses of their childhood.
This assistance comes in the form of counseling referrals, spiritual direction, healing Masses, referrals to community services, and facilitating meetings with Bishop Olmsted. Additionally, the Diocese of Phoenix is among the dioceses nationwide determined to be in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The Diocese of Phoenix has been audited annually since 2003, including an on-site audit in 2017.
Recent audits were undertaken by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent firm hired by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to determine compliance with the Charter. Phoenix has been found to be in full compliance with the Charter following each audit. In 2004, the Diocese of Phoenix and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office co-sponsored a historic summit on sexual abuse. It was attended by 350 people from the community and educated members of the Church, the public and the private sector on how to identify and deal with sexual misconduct against children.
To this day, the Diocese of Phoenix and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office work together on matters involving criminal allegations. The Diocese of Phoenix is committed to continuing these vital safeguards as we strive to promote healing and reconciliation with victims of sexual abuse; to guarantee an effective response to allegations; to ensure the accountability of our procedures; and to protect the faithful in the future. We encourage anyone who has been a victim of abuse to call a local law enforcement agency.
“Bishops must remain vigilant, courageous, and bold in their ongoing commitment to address this problem.”
– Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D.,
National Review Board
for the Protection of Children and Young People
For additional information about support services for those who have been abused, please contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection at (602) 354-2396.