Anchorage Archbishop addresses ‘Spotlight’ movie on sex abuse crisis

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’My dear people, I write to you regarding the church’s ministry of ensuring safe environments. I share the hope and confidence of the present and I reiterate my sadness of the past. I am sorry for any harm that has been inflicted on God’s children and their families by clergy and those in leadership who failed to protect.

In November, the movie Spotlight will be released which portrays the struggle that reporters of the Boston Globe faced when shedding light on the problem of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy and how some in church leadership failed to respond justly. It has been over 13 years since the Boston Globe broke this story and exposed, nationally, this evil that penetrated our church communities.

Through the 2002 promulgation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, by the United States Catholic Bishops, tremendous efforts have been made to ensure the safety of our children and to assist in the healing for victims, their families and the church community. Since The Charter’s adoption, methods and polices have been put in place for reporting allegations, providing advocates for victims and completing background investigations for ministers. I am grateful that the crisis has been revealed. We recognize that those traumatized by abuse will be impacted by the movie and many may continue to feel discouraged as this story is retold.

To victims who continue to hold the pain of abuse perpetrated by members of the church, please know that the shame is not yours to bear and we ask you to seek help. I encourage anyone who has been abused by another in any way to contact law enforcement.

To the people of the church and Alaska communities, please do not be disheartened, as with your help, we have become a safer place to worship, serve and be formed in our faith; a faith whose core belief is in the dignity of every human person. Thank you for your continued support in this effort and May God grant success to the efforts of all who advocate for victims of abuse and violence.

— Sincerely yours in Christ and Mary,

+Roger L. Schwietz, OMI

Archbishop of Anchorage

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What is being done in the Anchorage Archdiocese?

It has been 13 years since the U.S. bishops approved the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in Dallas. It is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by catholic clergy.

Since this time the Archdiocese of Anchorage has continued to put in place a code of pastoral conduct for its ministers and volunteers to follow and has been found by independent auditors to be consistently compliant over the past five years in every aspect of the charter.

This following is now in place to ensure a safe environment within our archdiocese:

* Policies requiring background checks and safe environment training for all volunteers working with children, and all clergy and staff.

* A victim’s assistance coordinator to advocate for any and all victims of abuse.

* Providing financial support for counseling services for a victim of abuse by clergy.

* Procedures requiring any allegation to be reported first to law enforcement.

* Training for our children and parents on the dynamics and signs of abuse in light of the church’s teaching of the dignity of every person.

* Pursued laicization for any clergy of the Anchorage Archdiocese with credible allegations of sexual abuse.

* Vetting requirements for all visiting ministers.

* A review board advising the archbishop on safe environment policies

For more information, contact The Office of Safe Environment at (907) 297-7736. Additional information is available at usccb.org and click on “Child & Youth Protection” or go to ArchdioceseofAnchorage.org.

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Resources:

  • Anchorage: Standing Together Against Rape: (907) 276-7273 or (800) 478-8999 (statewide)/ Alaska CARES: 561-8301
  • Mat-Su Valley: Alaska Family Services: 866-746-4080/ The Children’s Place: 357-5157
  • Kenai Peninsula: Haven House: (800) 478-7712
  • Bristol Bay: “Nitaput” Child Advocacy Ctr. (800) 510-1230
  • Kodiak: Kodiak Child Advocacy Center: (907) 486-9878
  • Cordova: Family Resource center: (907) 424-5674
  • Valdez: Advocates for Victim’s of Violence: 835-2999
  • Unalaska: USAFV: 581-1500

Victim’s Assistance Coordinators

  • Archdiocese of Anchorage: (907) 297-7786
  • Diocese of Fairbanks:(907) 374-9500 x116
  • Diocese of Juneau: (907) 586-2227 x25
  • National Resources: Darkness to Light: (866) 367-5444/ National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 4ACHILD, www.childwelfare.gov, (800) 422-4453

Reporting abuse

If you or someone you know has been abused call:

  • Your local law enforcement
  • 24-Hour On Call APD: 786-8900
  • Alaska State Troopers: Anchorage Detachment—269-5511/ Palmer Detachment—745-2131
  • Office of Children’s Services OCS: (800) 478-4444
  • For reports of abuse towards vulnerable adults, contact: Adult Protective Services: (800) 478-9996

'Anchorage Archbishop addresses ‘Spotlight’ movie on sex abuse crisis'
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