1 February 2007
Dear Collaborators in Pastoral Ministry:
On September 1, 2002, Bishop Barbarito promulgated the Policy Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests, Deacons, or Other Church Personnel for the Diocese of Ogdensburg. This policy reflected the direction given by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People.
The 2002 diocesan policy called for the Diocesan Review Board to review on a regular basis this policy and its procedures for dealing with allegations and make recommendations to me for proposed modifications (see IV.2). In November 2006, the Review Board met to discuss and review the document. The Board considers the 2002 diocesan policy to be practical and effective. Nonetheless, given the experience acquired in the last few years, the Board has recommended some modifications to our policy. These are reflected in the new document that you will find enclosed. It is important to note that conformity with this policy will safeguard that the canonical and civil rights of all those involved.
Our chief concern is that our children and young people be kept safe. All those who minister to youth within the Diocese of Ogdensburg, in any capacity, must be familiar with this policy. Diocesan safe environment programs have been instituted as a means to heighten our awareness of the potential of the real danger of this criminal behavior in our parishes and schools. I am grateful to all who work to maintain safe environments for our young people. Any allegation of sexual abuse made against a priest, deacon or other Church personnel is to be reported immediately, as this policy directs.
We continue to pray for those who have been sexually abused by clerics or other Church personnel. This revised policy will help prevent, as much as humanly possible, the tragic harm inflicted upon the innocent by those who have had our complete trust. Please know that we continue to reach out to those who have been harmed.
With sincere gratitude for your ministry among us, I am
Cordially yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Cunningham