Statement from Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi on Pope Francis’ worldwide order to the Church in response to the evil of sexual abuse
(from The Catholic Week)
As part of the Church’s commitment to protect minors and vulnerable adults, Pope Francis has enacted a universal law (Vos estis lux mundi) for the Church throughout the world. The Archdiocese of Mobile has already implemented many of the requirements of this new law, and has even gone beyond its provisions.
The law calls for pastoral, spiritual, medical and psychological support for victims of abuse. The Archdiocese of Mobile provides this through our Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Minors and Adults.
The law calls for a publicly accessible system of reporting abuse. The Archdiocese of Mobile provides this through the information available on its website (www.mobarch.org) or by calling the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Minors and Adults. In addition, contact information for civil authorities in all 28 counties of the Archdiocese is listed on the archdiocesan website so that allegations of abuse may be reported directly to civil authorities.
The law encourages that lay persons be included in handling allegations of abuse. The Archdiocese of Mobile has a Review Board, comprised mostly of lay persons not employed by the archdiocese, to examine allegations of abuse.
The law also directs that allegations against bishops in a province be reported to the archbishop. If this would ever be necessary in the Province of Mobile (comprised of the four dioceses of Alabama and Mississippi), the lay persons of the Review Board would assist the Archbishop of Mobile in examining the complaint, civil authorities in that jurisdiction would be notified, and the complaint sent to the Vatican.
It is also important to mention that archdiocesan efforts of child protection go beyond this new law. There are background checks of all clergy, employees and of volunteers who serve in ministries with minors. The archdiocese reports accusations of misconduct with minors to civil authorities and encourages anyone with such a complaint to report the complaint to civil authorities. There is an annual training for all clergy, employees and of volunteers who serve in ministries with minors, and there is an annual safe environment training for minors in Catholic schools, parish youth programs, and parish religious education programs.