STATEMENT REGARDING SEXUAL
The Catholic Church of America expressly prohibits any misconduct on the part of our clergy or any person using the mantel of authority of the Church. The Catholic Church of America cannot monitor the daily interaction between members of the clergy, or anyone acting on behalf of the Catholic Church of America, and the general public but we can express our complete and utter prohibition against any inappropriate sexual activity by our clergy, or any person acting under the mantel of authority, of the Catholic Church of America. The purpose of this policy is to articulate the Catholic Church of America's abhorrence to sexual misconduct on the part of any clergy, or any person acting under the mantel of authority, of the Catholic Church of America, and to delineate a process to permit any person who believes they have been a victim of sexual misconduct to report this information to law enforcement or any agency as deemed necessary.
While sexual misconduct is not supported under any Catholic Church of America doctrine or tenet, there may be a clergy person who does not act in accord with his or her training or conscience. The Catholic Church of America is not responsible for the sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity of its clergy, and has developed a policy to allow any person to notify the Catholic Church of America of any allegation so that appropriate action may be taken. The Catholic Church of America takes all complaints about its clergy or persons acting under the mantel of its authority very seriously. All of the clergy of the Catholic Church of America have been mailed a copy of this letter via registered mail and of the Catholic Church of America's intent to enforce it strictly.
Any person who has had any interaction with any clergy or persons acting under the mantel of Authority for the Catholic Church of America can and should report statements, acts, or behavior that he or she believes may be inappropriate to the Catholic Church of America in accord with this policy. Sexual misconduct means that any of the following behaviors are UNWELCOME or UNSOLICITED.
Statements to any person of any age or sex that are sexual in nature, an overt sexual gesture, attempting to grope, kiss or touch another person, attempting to engage in an unwelcome or unsolicited personal or sexual relationship when it has been clearly indicated that these advances are UNWELCOME between adults of consenting age, and engaging in any sexual behavior with any minor, welcome or otherwise, shall constitute sexual misconduct. This includes any acts of sexual promiscuity and predatory sexual advances with minors, and pedophilia.
Complaints should be directed to the Presiding Bishop:The Most Reverend Thomas Abel
Catholic Church of America
San Diego, CA 92115
619-354-6466 or 858-945-2235
The Catholic Church of America prefers that any complaint be made in writing. If the person is unable to make a complaint in writing, then a telephone report may be made to the number listed. The person may report the complaint to any clergy person, but only complaints received by the Bishop can be assured to receive a response in accord with this sexual misconduct policy. This policy applies specifically to sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity. Sexual contact which is neither criminal nor unsolicited, which may or may not be sinful, is not within the immediate scope of this policy, yet however may be addressed by the Board of Inquiry. However, anytime a person has a concern of any kind, they should bring the information forward to allow Catholic Church of America officials to respond. The Catholic Church of America encourages open and frank communication with all persons about any matter of concern When a complaint is received by any person, that person shall immediately report the information to the Bishop. Immediately means as soon as possible but in no event later than 48 hours from receipt of the allegation. The person receiving the complaint shall write down the person's name, address, phone number, date the incident allegedly took place, a description of the allegation, and the best way to contact the person who claims to have been violated in any way.
It is not up the clergy or those operating under the mantel of authority for the Catholic Church of America to verify the information or to conduct an investigation. When the bishop receives a complaint about sexual misconduct, the accused is immediately notified and suspended from conducting any and all activities on behalf of the diocese. The bishop will contact law enforcement or other appropriate agencies with the information no later than 48 hours from receipt of the allegation. Law enforcement must be notified before the diocese starts its investigation. The only exception is for information received during the Sacrament of Reconciliation as provided in this policy.
The Catholic Church of America pledges its full cooperation with law enforcement or any appropriate agencies, except as provided in the exception of information received during the administration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Within 72 hours of receipt of a complaint about sexual misconduct, the Bishop will convene a Board of Inquiry consisting of the Bishop and two clergy persons not named in the complaint. The Board of Inquiry may investigate the allegation to determine the guilt or innocence and the discipline of the accused in conformity with the diocese that is not necessarily in conformity with civil or criminal law. The investigation undertaken must be wide enough in scope to make a credible determination about whether the allegation has merit. The investigation should take no longer than 60 days from the date of the complaint but may be extended by the Bishop should it be necessary.
The Catholic Church of America may be requested to defer their investigation upon request of law enforcement. In those cases, the person against whom the complaint has been made may not assume any activity on behalf of the diocese or their ministry until resolution of the investigation. In addition, the diocese may delegate its investigatory authority to law enforcement and rely on their conclusions.
When the investigation is complete, and if the complaint has merit, the Board of Inquiry shall meet to determine what action should be taken against the offending clergy person. The diocese may select any option which in its opinion is reasonable. The person who made the complaint may request to appear before the Board of Inquiry to express their opinion or to offer information. The Board may immediately make a decision after the hearing or may take the matter under advisement.
The Board of Inquiry will make every effort to make a decision as promptly as possible. The accused may not not act under the authority of the diocese or provide any service related to the diocese using the investigation and until the decision of the Board of Inquiry is issued.
The Board of Inquiry shall contact the person, in writing, who made the allegations and inform them of the result of the investigation, and any sanction imposed, in the event the allegations are substantiated. If the allegations are unsubstantiated, the Board of Inquiry will not release the report to safeguard the reputation of the accused. The Board of Inquiry's decision is final.
Although the Catholic Church of America is an independent catholic church, it follows the guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church regarding any information or conversation that occurs during the Sacrament of Reconciliation The seal of confession is absolute. Nothing learned by any ordained clergy during the administration of the Sacrament of reconciliation may be divulged to anyone for any purpose. This means that any person who discloses any allegation of sexual misconduct against a clergy person of the Catholic Church of America or makes an admission of sexual misconduct during the Sacrament of Reconciliation cannot compel the individual who receives the information during the Sacrament of Reconciliation to divulge it. The ordained clergy person cannot, under any circumstances, speak to anyone, including law enforcement, about any matter whatsoever that is disclosed during the administration of this Sacrament. In accord with this, the reporting and investigation procedures are not applicable for any information concerning sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This exception does not apply if a person receives spiritual counseling or direction outside of this sacrament.
The diocese is not responsible for the acts of any clergy person or persons acting under the mantel of authority for the Catholic Church of America. All such acts occur outside the scope of employment, contract and duties required of any person affiliated with the Catholic Church of America. All clergy persons and persons acting under the mantel of authority of the Catholic Church of America understands and agrees to hold the Catholic Church of America harmless and indemnify the Catholic Church of America from any and all action (s) arising from any allegation, investigation, indictment, criminal prosecution or dismissal from the Catholic Church of America resulting from acts of sexual misconduct or inappropriate sexual activity.
If any clergy person of the Catholic Church of America is convicted of any act of sexual misconduct, then they shall NOT hold themselves out as a member of the Catholic Church of America or perform any duties for the Catholic Church of America. The Catholic Church of America may take any steps necessary to protect the interests of the Catholic Church of America and the People of God. Once a clergy person has been convicted of a criminal offense, including a misdemeanor, for sexual misconduct, then they may not petition to the Board of Inquiry for reinstatement. If the clergy person is not convicted of a criminal offense, but has allegations of sexual misconduct substantiated through the Board's inquiry, they may not request reinstatement. If the clergy person has not been convicted of a criminal offense, and the Board's inquiry does not substantiate the allegation, the Board, at its discretion, may lift the suspension restoring the clergy person to active status.
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