Update on the Implementation of the Recommendations by Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has contracted with Kinsale Management Consulting (Kinsale) to lead a national search for a director of the newly established Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment. The creation of this new position was one of several recommendations called for in the independent Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force Report and Recommendations in April 2014. Qualified candidates are urged to apply. The position description for the Director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment is posted online and people are encouraged to share the position posting with others who may be interested.

Kinsale will also assist the archdiocese in implementing other recommendations made by the Task Force and by performing some of the duties of the new office until a permanent director is found. Dr. Kathleen McChesney, head of Kinsale, began this work July 7. McChesney is a former top FBI official with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience. McChesney also served as the head of the Office for Child and Youth Protection for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from its beginning in 2002 until mid-2005 during which time she developed and oversaw a national compliance mechanism to ensure that Catholic dioceses complied with civil laws and internal policies relative to the prevention, reporting and response to the sexual abuse of minors. From December 2013 to April 2014, Kinsale oversaw the independent file review of over 3,300 clergy files of men in ministry in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis at any point between 1970 and December 2013.

The Director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment is responsible for ensuring compliance with the USCCB‘s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the Charter). The director will also be responsible for programs covering safety and protection of vulnerable adults. This new office will encompass the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, the Promoter of Ministerial Standards program, and the Office of Victim Advocacy and Assistance. Bringing all safe environment and ministerial standards programs under one office will assist in coordination and communication and will allow for a thorough review to bring all work into alignment with recognized best practices.

The Office for the Protection of Children and Youth currently oversees local implementation of steps to prevent abuse in Church ministry as called for in the Charter. Since 2005, more than 75,000 members of the clergy, candidates for ordination, parish employees, teachers, parish and school volunteers and others in service in the local Church have undergone VIRTUS safe environment training. Since 2002, when the archdiocese began using its current background check vendor, more than 22,000 background checks have been run on clergy, candidates for ordination and employees. In addition, nearly 100,000 background checks have been performed on volunteers in parishes, schools, and other service in the local Church.

The Promotion of Ministerial Standards program was established by the archdiocese in 2005. The program assesses and monitors the living arrangements and employment of clergy who violate the law (after any civil justice system obligations are complete) or archdiocesan policy or the USCCB’s Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons.

The Office of Victim Advocacy and Assistance will be staffed by a victim liaison, to lead outreach to victims, as well as the existing victim assistance coordinator position, to coordinate counseling and other services for clergy sexual abuse victims. This office currently offers assistance to any victim of sexual abuse in Church ministry, either by a member of the clergy, religious or lay person serving in a parish, Catholic school, or other Catholic ministry setting.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is committed to fighting the devastating societal problem of sexual abuse of minors by working to prevent abuse, reporting abuse to law enforcement or child protection officials immediately, and responding to help all those affected by abuse with a message of hope and healing.