Statement on John Jay Study of Causes of Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors

Statement from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on John Jay Study of Causes of Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors

Results of five years of research by the John Jay College of Law on the causes of clerical sexual abuse of minors, released by the U S Conference of Catholic Bishops today, represent a landmark study never undertaken by any other body or group, despite the fact that abuse occurs in so many other areas where adults mentor children. In pursuing this independent and wide ranging study, the Catholic Church in America demonstrates its undiminished commitment to put this sad chapter behind it and, more importantly, gives assurances that all children will be safe.

“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is proud of the pivotal role that our former Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, played in the 2002 creation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults and in commissioning the John Jay Study,” said Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, the current Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Nienstedt noted that the Archdiocese was one of the first dioceses in the country to address the horrible problem of clergy and other sex abuse of minors through investigation, education and preventative policies beginning in the late 1980s. In 1992, the Archdiocese named an independent victim’s advocate to help ensure that those harmed by clergy or others affiliated with the Church had assistance in finding the help and support they needed. The Archdiocese instituted background checks for all clergy, parish and school employees in 1993 and established a Clergy Review Board in 1995.

Between 2004 and 2006, the Archdiocese instituted safe environment training and background checks for all adult volunteers who work with children in parishes or schools. Since 2002, more than 88,000 background checks have been made on clergy, employees and volunteers in the Archdiocese. Since 2005, nearly 55,000 adults have attended safe environment training. During the 2006-2007 school year, age-appropriate safe environment lessons were implemented in all school and faith formation classrooms. Approximately 75,000 children annually receive these lessons in how to help keep themselves safe.

“The Church in no way intends to minimize the horror of the clergy abuse scandal,” the Archbishop stated. “While it is clearly a stain that will last for some time, today, thanks to training programs and stringent background checks, along with major changes in seminary candidate screening and formation developed in light of emerging best practices, we have instituted a culture that supports the protection of all God’s children. Children and their parents in this Archdiocese can be confident of their safety and their ability to flourish in a loving Catholic environment.”