For 20 years, our work with young people and vulnerable adults in the Diocese of Grand Rapids has been directed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The charter was adopted by the U.S. Bishops in June 2002 in response to the grave issue of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States. It has been revised three times since its adoption – in 2005, 2011 and 2018.
The Charter is a comprehensive set of procedures that directs action for:
- Creating a safe environment for children and young people by ensuring all clergy, volunteers, staff members and teachers complete the following requirements to be around children: a certified safe environment training program (Virtus®), compliance with the Standards for Ministerial Behavior, criminal history background checks, and, for certain staff members, fingerprinting;
- Healing, reconciliation, and support for victim-survivors;
- Responding promptly and effectively to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy;
- Cooperating with civil authorities;
- A zero-tolerance policy for offenders;
- Providing means of accountability for the future to ensure issues continue to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.
Video: How the Charter Protects Children & Young People (YouTube)
Child & Youth Protection: Frequently asked questions
2020 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter | Annual Report Summary
Healing Our Church Report: Bishop Walkowiak invites Catholics to become part of the renewal
Learn more about safe environment policies and practices in the diocese:
Reporting Abuse by a Bishop
An individual who has reasonable cause to suspect a U.S. Catholic bishop of sexual abuse of a minor or his intentional interference with a civil or Church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious is urged to report this information to the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) hotline at (800) 276-1562 or ReportBishopAbuse.org.
Upcoming Events around the Diocese
Healing our Church sessions return in April
All are invited to a six-week series to pray about and reflect on the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and find a way forward as a family of faith. Healing Our Church begins Thursday, April 21 at Cathedral Square Center, 360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids. The weekly 7 p.m. sessions give participants an opportunity to gather in small groups and discuss the factors that led to the crisis and coverups and pray together for a path toward reconciliation and healing. Click here to register.
Holy Hour for Healing, Reparation and Restoration – April 25
Bishop Walkowiak invites you to join him for this evening of Scripture, music, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament to pray for those who’ve been wounded by clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Monday, April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, 301 Sheldon Blvd. SE, Grand Rapids. The Diocese of Grand Rapids is offering the Holy Hour in April in observance of national Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month. Please join us.
2022 Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference
The 16th Annual Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the Diocese of Grand Rapids June 5-8. The event was offered in person and virtually. View photos (Flickr)
What is the Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference? | Learn more
Diocesan victim advocates say they’re on healing quest for abuse survivors (CNS, June 22, 2022)