Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass for Archdiocesan Child Protection Compliance Coordinators
March 16, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass today at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land for the archdiocesan child protection compliance coordinators. During the Mass, Cardinal Wuerl blessed and commissioned child protection coordinators.
The cardinal began his homily by reflecting on Lent as a time to deepen our spiritual life and relationship with God. “Lent is also a time for us to remember that before we can be forgiven we must say that we are sorry. ‘I am sorry’ are simple words but they require a humble admission on our part of failure. There can be no forgiveness of sins if we do not have sorrow at least to the extent that we regret it, resolve not to repeat it and intend to turn back to God,” said the cardinal. “Our sorrow for wrong we have done should lead us to the Sacrament of Penance, reconciliation, confession. With this comes the firm resolve to do better in the future.”
One of the ways in which the Catholic Church has expressed its sorrow for the failings of the past that have harmed young people has been the child protection policies now in place across the country and in the Archdiocese of Washington, said the cardinal. “You who are commissioned today are part of the front line of that child protection effort being realized in each of our parishes. Lent is a time of purification, a season for reconciliation with God. Accordingly, the commissioning of all of you today is a sign of purification and a hopeful invitation to reconciliation. Thank you for taking on this responsibility and thank you for working to make whole, all over again, something that was broken and now, thanks to you and so many others like you, is being healed,” the cardinal said as he concluded his homily.
The Archdiocese of Washington has had a written Child Protection Policy since 1986. It was one of the first dioceses in the country to have a written policy and provide education on child protection. The policy is publicly available on the archdiocese’s website (www.adw.org) and covers reporting, prevention and healing. It mandates reporting to civil authorities; education for children and adults; and background checks for clergy, employees and volunteers who work with minors. Also included is information on assistance for those harmed and what to do if there is an allegation. Children in archdiocesan schools and religious education programs also receive education on how to recognize abuse and protect themselves. A Child Protection Advisory Board of predominantly lay experts advises the archdiocese on and monitors compliance with child protection efforts.
In the Archdiocese of Washington, employees and volunteers at archdiocesan parishes and schools who have substantial contact with children must go through child protection education and complete a criminal background check. The process of ensuring that the parish and school are in full compliance with the Child Protection Policy is managed by the more than 200 child protection compliance coordinators throughout the archdiocese. These individuals play a vital role in the parishes and schools by devoting themselves to providing the safest possible environment for the children who attend archdiocesan schools, religious education programs and participate in related activities at parishes and schools. Designated by the pastor, the child protection coordinators receive extensive education and training through the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and continuing education throughout their service.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.