Prayers sought to heal victims of clergy abuse

For the past 14 years Bishop Frank J. Dewane has held a Mass to petition for the Lord to heal and protect the victims of clerical abuse while giving the grace for all to act in helping end this scourge.

“Whatever procedure, educational announcement, commitment we make, or administrative mechanisms we put forward are all powerless compared to the strength of our prayers through our gathering at this Holy Sacrifice, at this Table of the Lord, asking the Lord to heal the victims of abuse,” Bishop Dewane stated.

The Bishop celebrated Mass April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice with the specific intention of praying for victims of child abuse. The Mass takes place annually in April, which is National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, as Bishop leads the faithful in praying for an end to child abuse, and specifically the clerical abuse which has been a scourge on the Catholic Church.

In asking the Lord to heal all victims of abuse, the Church is also called to be part of the solution in addressing sexual abuse.

“The gravity of the phenomena of abuse is known to all, and the evil is clearly seen as something that scars individuals for life,” Bishop Dewane said. “For the sins that the Church has committed – including the exploitation of truly vulnerable individuals that are scarred for life – we ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Because we believe in the sanctity of the individual, the person, must always be foremost our priority consideration.”

The Bishop noted that much has been improved in the Church’s handling of abuse cases since 2002 when wide-ranging mechanisms were put in place to help protect children and the vulnerable, but it did not stop the abuse completely. In addition, the refusal to act or efforts to conceal abuse cases by some in power have undercut the Church’s credibility.

“For this I stand before you and acknowledge the human dimension of the Church – clergy and Bishops – have failed without a doubt. That is why we have to continue to face this,” Bishop Dewane continued. “While things have greatly improved – one case is one case too many.”

The Bishop reminded everyone that as faithful Catholics we each have our individual role in helping to end abuse.

“Bishops can never say enough about the pain and sorrow that has been caused by the tragedy of abuse; a tragedy of broken fidelity and trust toward individuals,” Bishop Dewane said. “I ask for forgiveness from those who have been harmed, scandalized, dispirited; those who have been sexually abused by clergy and bishops. The sorrow and pain of those who we serve is clear and it is we who have to act as soon as we learn of something in a most responsible and expedient way.”

Among the continuing actions taken by the Diocese of Venice to combat child abuse is the Safe Environment Program. This includes thoroughly screening and evaluating the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people. In addition, the program educates thousands about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.

The Bishop also explained the role of the Diocesan Review Board, a consultative body that independently advises the Bishop regarding the assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Review Board consists of lay professionals and a Diocesan priest and makes recommendations of action. The Bishop does not participate in the Review Board process.

As strong as these efforts are in creating a safe environment within the Diocese, Bishop Dewane says it is up to everyone – each according to their role – to come face to face with the reality of child abuse in the Church and in society as a whole.

“We also have to be honest that many people have been hurt gravely and severely and each one of us must do our part in helping the healing process of all victims while also being aware of our individual responsibilities in preventing this scourge from continuing.”

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB 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.

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

Cyber Safety Workshops informs

When the Diocese of Venice set aside March 6-7, 2021 as Safe Haven Sunday so as to provide informational materials to address the harmful effects of pornography on youth marriages and families, it was only natural that there would be a call for more help on this difficult issue.

In response, the Diocese Offices of Family Life, Religious Education and Catholic Schools recently brought in Liz Repking, founder of Cyber Safety Consulting, to address parents, religious educators, and principals through a series of workshops.

Speaking from personal experience through her work, as well as a parent of three, Repking said her presentations had the goal of educating parents, children, and educators on the safe, savvy, and ethical use of the digital world with a total of five presentations before more than 150 people.

The parent workshops, April 14, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers, were titled, “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Repking spoke about keeping children safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises.

Safe Haven Sunday provided basic tools and practical tips for adults to create a safer digital environment for themselves and their children. Questions from Repking’s presentation focused on how to set limits while children are online and maintain an openness if trouble arises and encouraged a parent to be available to respond. Religious educators at the workshops sought a way to help guide their young students in becoming better digital citizens.

Repking explained how many teens freely share personal information as well as images or videos of themselves to others, whether they are real friends or “online friends,” not really knowing how that information is going to be used.

“Young people do not have the skills to developmentally manage the abstract thinking needed to address the issues they face online each day,” she said. “They don’t understand the consequences of their actions or the foreverness of the internet.”

Repking shared a disturbing story about her own daughter’s encounter with an online predator who used innocuous, but common tactics to become online friends with the teenage girl while attempting to learn more and more information. Fortunately for Reking’s daughter, this conversation was stopped before anything more serious could happen; it serves as an object lesson for others.

“She even told this person, who purported to be a girl her same age, that her mother is a cyber security person who told her not to share information or pictures,” Repking said. “But he kept pressing, and coercing, and trying to get more and more information. That happened to my daughter,” she said as she showed images of the text exchange. “She knew better. What happens to the others who don’t know any better?”

Workshops specifically for Catholic school principals and Parish religious education directors were held April 14 at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, April 15 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, and April 16 at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers.

The presentation topics were similar to that of the parent workshop but Repking also shared her efforts to create curriculum for students in Dioceses and school districts around the country. This work focuses on helping young people approach online usage through a moral and value perspective, providing lasting life skills.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said Repking’s presentation was a natural follow-up to Safe Haven Sunday and moves the Diocese forward with the possibility of bringing the in-school program to the Diocese in the coming year. “There is so much out there that needs to be addressed in helping to develop our students to be faithful and prudent online users.”

Several religious education directors noted during and after the presentations the challenge they face in trying to get their students to understand the dangers of online usage (predators, cyberbullying, identity theft, and more). It was noted by several that hearing Repking was beneficial in guiding them and adding they hope to receive additional information and training in the future.

Mass for victims of abuse to be celebrated April 16

For the 14th consecutive year, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice will be offering Mass to pray for the victims of abuse. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and take place at 8 a.m., April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

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

“As Christian adults, we have a moral 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, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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

Each year the Diocese 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 for 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 50,000 background screenings and in excess of 57,000 persons trained in Safe Environment. In the last five years alone, 14,755 individuals were background screened and more than 15,000 trained in safe environment. While all Diocesan staff and volunteers go through Safe Environment training, only those who work with minors or vulnerable adults must be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment prior to beginning employment or volunteering.

The mission of the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working 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 of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB 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.

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

 

News Briefs for the Week of April 2, 2021

Palm Sunday opens Holy Week

The opening of Mass on the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, begins with the Procession with Palms and a reading of the Gospel of Mark (11:1-10), describing the scene of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem days before He was put to death and resurrected . This opening is followed by the blessing of the palms and marks the start of Holy Week with the Easter Triduum beginning at sunset on Holy Thursday and continuing until the Great Easter Vigil.

Easter Sunday Televised Mass

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Easter Sunday Mass, for a full hour. The Mass can be viewed at 9 a.m. on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Livestream moves from Catholic Center to Epiphany Cathedral Parish

After more than a year of livestreaming the Mass from the Catholic Center, beginning April 1, 2021 the livestream of the daily and weekend Masses will be broadcast at 8 a.m. from Epiphany Cathedral Parish. You will still be able to find the Masses on the Diocese of Venice Facebook page found www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice or at www.facebook.com/epiphanycathedral.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Fort Myers

Bishop Frank J. Dewane finished his round of celebrating Mass for students in Diocese of Venice Catholic schools with the latest stops on March 25, 2021, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

During these Masses, Bishop Dewane stressed how the Lenten Season is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Faith. He also fielded questions from the eighth graders at St. Francis Xavier.

Divine Mercy Sunday Prayer Service

On Sunday, April 11, all are invited to join Bishop Frank J. Dewane in a Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing from pregnancy loss from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Avenue West, Venice. The Prayer Service will also be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/DioceseofVenice. Contact Sylvia at 941-412-5860 or project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org for any questions.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students at Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass on the Vigil of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, March 27, 2021, for the students and faculty of Ave Maria University. Following Mass was a community celebration of the Feast Day of the University, the Annunciation of Our Lord, moved from March 25 to the weekend to allow everyone to participate. The outdoor festivities included a barbeque dinner as well as musical entertainment.

Mass for Victims of Child Abuse April 16

April is Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, and in conjunction with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Diocese of Venice will hold a Mass for Victims of Child Abuse for the 14th consecutive year. Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the Celebrant of the Mass at 8 a.m. on April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be livestreamed through www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.insitute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Parent Cyber Security Presentation

The Offices of Family Life and Religious Education are hosting a free parent event “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Cyber security expert Liz Repking will cover keeping kids safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises. There are two opportunities to attend: April 14, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish, 2057 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Both presentations are from 6:30-8 p.m. Registration by April 10 is required for planning purposes at  https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/protecting-gods-children-online-in-a-hyper-digital-age.

 

 

Bishop letter to Faithful regarding Florida Attorney General report

November 6, 2020

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, my prayer is that the strength of the Holy Spirit will renew and deepen our Faith in Jesus Christ. Particularly, as together we face the difficult challenges that the Coronavirus has brought, I call upon the intercession of Our Blessed Mother for the safety and health of you and your family.

It may be recalled that in October of 2018, I shared with you that the then-Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi, ordered an investigation of how the seven Dioceses in Florida have handled allegations of misconduct involving minors by clergy. With the full cooperation of the Diocese of Venice, the investigation was thoroughly conducted through the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor, who requested specific clergy files. As a result, a list of priests who had been accused of a substantiated allegation of a sexual offense against minors has been issued by the Statewide Prosecutor. This listing of priests accused of misconduct in Florida is the final action to be taken and the State investigation has been concluded.

Included on the State’s list are nine priests who were incardinated in the Diocese of Venice against whom substantiated allegations have been identified in the investigation. None of the priests listed presently have faculties (allowed to minister) in the Diocese. Some have died, some have been laicized or dismissed from clerical state, and others have had their priestly faculties permanently removed. When the investigation was announced in 2018, it was not precipitated by any new allegation of abuse. The investigation involved historic cases.

As your Bishop, I wish to express compassion and my continual prayer for all victims of child sexual abuse and that each receive God’s healing and peace. The harm done is grave. On behalf of the Church, I ask forgiveness of those who have been harmed by Clergy or others involved with the Church. The Diocese remains committed to the Policy for the Protection of Children and I am pleased that the Statewide Prosecutor’s report recognizes that the Diocese has followed its policies.

The Statewide Prosecutor’s Report is a sad reminder of the harm done in the past to minors by those who had been ordained to serve the Church and care for the Faithful. Be reassured that the investigation did not uncover previously unknown cases in the Diocese of Venice. The commitment the Diocese made in accord with the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People has proven effective and helpful in protecting our children, young people and vulnerable adults.

This moment also allows for me to once again encourage all who have been abused to report it to Department of Children and Families and if it involves clergy of the Diocese of Venice, to contact also the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator. The Diocese takes every report of abuse seriously and responds promptly.

Humbly, I invite all to continue to pray for the victims of child sexual abuse. Pray also for the Church’s efforts to protect our children and foster a safe environment for all.

May Almighty God bless you and your family, through Christ our Lord.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

 

 

Diocese Safe Environment program adjusts to changing times

With the onset of the global pandemic, the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment training has transitioned online as of Sept. 1, 2020.

Donna Foti, Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Manager, said that the pandemic sped up a process to transition from in-person classes to online training. This training program is for all active employees and volunteers and clergy through Virtus Online.

“Online training provides flexibility and a streamlined process which allows users to complete the training and receive certification prior to starting their service within the Diocese,” Foti explained.

The training modules are available in English and Spanish and users are directed by their Parish/School/entity to register in Virtus as part of their onboarding process.

As part of the Safe Environment Program, the Diocese of Venice requires that all employees and those volunteers who work with children and/or vulnerable adults be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment. Retraining and recertification is required every five years.

The Diocese of Venice is committed to providing a comprehensive program in an effort to protect the most vulnerable from abuse.

The mission of the Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working 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 by 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 further information about the Diocesan Safe Environment Program, please visit the www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. To report abuse by Diocesan personnel or volunteers also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

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.

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.

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.

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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