Masses Praying for Victims of Abuse in April

Staff Report

4/9/19

For the 12th year in a row, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice will be offering Masses to pray for the victims of abuse. These Masses will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and take place at 8:00 a.m., April 24 at Epiphany Cathedral 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice; and then at 8 a.m., on April 25 at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. To this end, the Diocese works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults with a zero-tolerance policy.

“As Christian adults, we have a moral and legal responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of minors and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.”

In 1983, recognizing the alarming rate at which children continued to be abused and neglected and the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse and assist parents and families affected by maltreatment, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In keeping with continued efforts to nationally promote the awareness of child abuse and neglect, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined in promoting this effort.

In addition to the Masses, each year the Diocese of Venice conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions for thousands, including clergy, religious and laity who work or volunteer in the Diocese.

As minors and vulnerable adults participate in activities within or sponsored by the Diocese, the mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people.
  • To hold those who minister in the name of the Church in the Diocese of Venice – all diocesan employees (clergy, religious and laity) and those volunteers who work with children and young people – to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been more than 35,500 background screenings and 33,700 persons trained in safe environment. In the last five years alone, more than 13,000 were background screened and more than 11,000 trained in safe environment.

The mission of the Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and parents, about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese annually undergoes a comprehensive audit from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese of Venice is in compliance with current directives.

For a more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or where the nearest Safe Environment class is being held, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Upcoming Regional Safe Environment Training

Epiphany Cathedral, Venice, 6 p.m., April 25; and 6 p.m., April 27;

St. Catherine Parish, Sebring, 6 p.m., April 25 (in English and Spanish); 6 p.m., April 27 (in English and Spanish);

St. Columbkille Parish, Fort Myers, 6 p.m., May 2; and 9:30 a.m., May 4;

St. Thomas More Parish, 6 p.m., May 9; and 9:30 a.m., May 11;

San Pedro Parish, North Port, 6 p.m., May 16; and 9:30 a.m., May 18;

Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers, 6 p.m., May 16; and 9:30 a.m., May 18;

St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples, 6 p.m., May 16; and 9:30 a.m., May 18;

St. Paul Parish, Arcadia, 6 p.m., May 23 (in English and Spanish); and 9:30 a.m., May 25 (in English and Spanish);

St. John the Evangelist Parish, Naples, 6 p.m., May 23; and 9:30 a.m., May 25;

St. Agnes Parish, Naples, 6 p.m., June 6; and 9:30 a.m., June 8;

Our Lady of Grace Parish, Avon Park, 6 p.m., June 6 (in English and Spanish); and 9:30 a.m., June 8 (in English and Spanish);

St. Patrick Parish, Sarasota, 6 p.m., June 6; and 9:30 a.m., June 8;

Resurrection Parish, Fort Myers, 6 p.m., June 13; and 9:30 a.m., June 15;

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte, 6 p.m., June 13; and 9:30 a.m., June 15.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE   (BOX English and Spanish)

During April, the Secretariat encourages the faithful to recite the “Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

”God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross. Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo; Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz. Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

 

 

Creating a Safe Environment

Special to the Florida Catholic

Recent events continue to underscore the importance of protecting children, young people and adults from sexual abuse and supporting victims/survivors as they bravely come forward with their reports. All forms of sexual abuse are intrinsically evil, especially those that occur within the Catholic Church. It is the commitment of the Diocese to provide an environment which is safe and nurturing.

The mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all employees at the parishes, Catholic schools, and other diocesan entities – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children, young people, and vulnerable adults.
  • To hold those who minister in the Diocese of Venice – all employees (clergy, religious and laity) at the parishes, Catholic schools, and other diocesan entities and those volunteers who work with children, young people, and vulnerable adults – to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been over 35,541 background screenings and 33,700 persons trained in safe environment. In the last five years alone, 13,494 were background screened and 11,257 trained in safe environment.

There are 48 safe environment lay men and women trainers currently active. These trainers teach the safe environment training sessions held in the parishes, Catholic schools, and other diocesan locations. The trainings are offered throughout the year and the list can be found on the Diocesan Safe Environment Website under “Training Schedule,” accessible at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Since January of this year alone, 141 trainings were offered in multiple locations around the Diocese.

Employees (clergy, religious and laity) and volunteers become certified in safe environment after completing a training session. During the sessions, attendees are trained: in the detection of grooming techniques by a potential sex offender; in the detection and prevention of abuse on a child or vulnerable adult; and in the detection of labor and sex trafficking. Additional training includes learning about National Hotline contacts for child, elder, labor or sex trafficking abuse, anti-cyber-bullying and anti-sexting resources, and procedures for reporting grooming techniques and abuse. The training also provides location-specific sex offender registries within a two-mile radius of each Catholic school in the Diocese.

Attendees are also trained in Diocesan Procedures, especially the Code of Pastoral Conduct, the Code of Conduct for Volunteers Working with Minors, the Policy and Procedural Guidelines for the Diocese of Venice in Florida relating to the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, and Electronic Fingerprinting Procedures. These codes, policies and procedures are accessible to the public on the Diocesan Safe Environment Website.

It is the duty of all persons to report abuse. The following are the mandatory steps regarding reporting:

  1. An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by anyone should be reported immediately to the Florida Department of Children and Families Child Abuse Hotline (800-96Abuse) and/or any Law enforcement agency.
  2. An allegation of elder abuse by anyone should be reported immediately to the Elder Abuse Hotline (800-96Elder) and/or any Law enforcement agency.
  3. An allegation of labor or sex trafficking abuse by anyone should be reported immediately to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888) and/or any Law enforcement agency.
  4. If the alleged abuser is a Diocesan employee or volunteer, including clergy, also notify Victim Assistance Coordinator at 941-416-6114.

Once a report is made to the Victim Assistance Coordinator, the Diocesan Review Board is notified, primarily compromised of non-Diocesan-employed lay professionals, is notified. The board meets promptly to review the allegation, investigate the case, and make recommendations to the Bishop.

As part of the Safe Environment Program in each Parish and Catholic school, there are 105 Safe Environment Coordinators who coordinate the compliance that persons employed or volunteering with children, young people, and/or vulnerable adults are background screened and safe environment trained prior to their employment or volunteering.

Every five years, employees and volunteers are background rescreened and employees are recertified in safe environment. The Diocese is informed by the State of Florida within 24 hours of the arrest of any of its employees, including clergy.

Every priest or deacon must be background screened at two levels – the State of Florida and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – and become certified in safe environment in order to minister in the Diocese of Venice. These requirements are in addition to a reference check and a letter of good standing from their bishop or provincial superior for religious order priests.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 14,865 children and youth in parish religious education programs and Catholic schools were safe environment trained. Each Parish and Catholic school is yearly audited on its safe environment training for children and youth by the Diocese, and the information in the Diocesan Safe Environment Program is subject to national audits.

Parishes and Catholic schools are also required to publish information on proper reporting to the Department of Children and Families by posters and other forms of communication. The Diocese of Venice works hard to maintain safe environments and to bring awareness about abuse and how to properly report.

The Diocese is committed to providing a comprehensive Safe Environment Program in an effort to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse. An important part of this program is prayer. Each year, Bishop Dewane invites all faithful to join him in prayer for the victims/survivors at two special Masses held in April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

We must always endeavor to improve and move forward. An organizational change involves creating a vigilant culture of protection and healing. Anyone interested can become certified in safe environment and aide in maintaining safe environments in every parish, Catholic school, and diocesan entity. For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or to register for the nearest training, please visit the Diocesan Safe Environment Website or contact the Office of Safe Environment Awareness and Certification at 941-484-9543.

 

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