Statement from Archbishop Leonard P. Blair (November 20, 2015)
The new film “Spotlight” recounts a deeply painful and pivotal chapter in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, when in 2002 the Boston Globe investigated and reported on sexual abuse by clergy and the failures of Bishops in the face of such reprehensible acts.
We recognize the important role of the journalists who brought this issue to light. It prompted a call-to-action, leading to major Church reforms and meaningful change. We also acknowledge the scores of people at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and others who worked diligently with the Bishops to create the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, published in June 2002.
Since the inception of the Charter 14 years ago, the Archdiocese of Hartford has remained true to its principles. The Archdiocese has developed and upheld a culture of “zero tolerance” of sexual abuse, with clearly defined legal and pastoral consequences for offenders should abuse of any form take place.
Our overriding goal is to create a safe, protective environment for children, young people and others who might be vulnerable. This goal is supported by mandatory background checks for all personnel who come in contact with a minor or vulnerable adult. To ensure that the Charter and its conduct codes are followed, we willingly comply with an annual audit overseen by an independent, unbiased entity. Additionally, we require sexual abuse awareness training for all Archdiocesan employees, as well as those who teach Catholic school or a parish religious formation program. We thank the many clergy, lay faithful, religious and professionals involved in developing and implementing training. The Archdiocese of Hartford welcomes Pope Francis’ Papal Commission, which the Holy Father created in 2014 to advise him on additional reform measures.
The Catholic Church has asked, and continues to ask, for forgiveness from those whose sacred trust was violated through the crime of sexual abuse of minors, and who have endured emotional and physical pain because adequate safeguards were not in place or not enforced. The Church is profoundly sorry for the damage that was wrought on young people and their families.
More information about the protocols and programs run by the Archdiocese of Hartford to protect the faithful and promote healing and reconciliation may be found through the Office of Safe Environment.