Letter from Archbishop Schnurr
One of the greatest responsibilities adults ever face is the protection of children under their care. That is a duty that falls heavily upon those who minister in the name of the Church because children are entrusted to us in so many ways – in schools, in religious education, in Scouting, on field trips and in sports. Parents have a right to expect that their children are as safe as humanly possible in all of these situations.
When I came to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, therefore, I was pleased to find in place a series of policies, procedures and recommendations known as the Decree on Child Protection. The first version, then called the Decree on Child Abuse, took effect in 1993. Since then the Decree has been revised every five years in the light of experience to make to it an even more effective vehicle for ensuring the safety of children.
The Decree on Child Protection is an excellent document and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is committed to enforcing its policies and procedures. But we need your help to do that. If you are a cleric, employee or a volunteer who works regularly with children, you already have been trained in the provisions of the Decree. I call on everyone else to become familiar with these provisions as well.
In the dealing with the present and the future, we cannot entirely forget the past. In earlier years the Church’s actions to prevent crimes against children under our care and the reactions to abuse when it happened were often inadequate or worse. I very much regret that, and I apologize to anyone who was hurt as a child by a priest, employee or volunteer representing the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In the name of the Church I ask for your forgiveness and your prayers, and I assure you of mine.
I also have two other things that I wish to say to survivors of child abuse: First, if your abuse has not yet been reported, I urge you to contact the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator of the Archdiocese at 513-421-3131 or 1-800-686-2724 as well as law enforcement. Secondly, I realize from my meetings with child abuse survivors over the years that the deep wound you have suffered may have separated you from the Church. If this is the case, I urge you to consider coming back to the practice of the faith. I believe that in the sacraments you will find real healing.
In our concern for the safety of children, let us not lose sight of the wonderful work done with young people by the clerics, employees and volunteers of the Archdiocese. As pastors, teachers, coaches, Scoutmasters, and a host of other roles, they are showing these little ones the face of Christ. For that I am deeply grateful.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati