EN ES

“Our commitment to creating and maintaining safe environments is absolute and will not be compromised.”
- Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Our Promise

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our commitment to creating and maintaining safe environments is absolute and will not be compromised. Pope Saint Paul VI wrote, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41).  Indeed, the witness of an authentically Christian life is a powerful testament to the truth and beauty of the Gospel.  The light of Christ radiates forth from all who follow Him in faith, casting out the darkness of the sins and errors that hold us back from the joy and freedom that God has prepared for us.  At the same time, the failure to follow Christ by certain members of His Church offers a counter-witness to the Gospel, which causes grievous wounds to the Body of Christ.  The grave sin of sexual abuse committed by priests, employees and volunteers within the Church has caused great harm to victims and become a source of deep shame for Catholics in recent years. In response to these serious failures, the Church has made important reforms.  Here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, effective systems have been put into place to support victims and protect children and all vulnerable adults in all of our archdiocesan institutions. Since its promulgation in 1993, the Decree on Child Protection has directed the Archdiocese’s response to this issue. The purpose of the decree is twofold: to prevent the abuse of children and vulnerable adults and to provide a comprehensive system for promptly responding to incidents of abuse if they occur. The decree provides for:
  • Fingerprinting and complete background checks on all clergy, employees, and volunteers;
  • Ongoing required training for clergy, employees, and volunteers on recognizing the signs of abuse of children and vulnerable adults;
  • Procedures for reporting suspected abuse;
  • Immediate reporting of all allegations of abuse to the appropriate civil authorities;
  • A Child Protection Review Board that is comprised primarily of lay people;
  • Training of children in Catholic schools and religious education programs on warning signs and appropriate responses for their own protection; and
  • Onsite independent audits of policies and procedures by an outside firm.
If you suspect abuse on the part of any agent of the Archdiocese, please report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency, as well as through our Report Misconduct link on this website. If you see something, please say something. I am sorry for the terrible pain and suffering experienced by the victims of abuse throughout their lives.  I am sorry for the trust that has been violated. I realize that no program or policy can undo the harm done to victims and their families. But I pray that these efforts can be a source of genuine healing and support for victims, as well as establish effective measures to prevent abuse of any kind going forward. Please join me in praying for the healing of all victims of the grave sin of sexual abuse and for a greater fidelity to Christ among all the members of His Church. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, patroness of our nation, continue to intercede for us.  May the Holy Spirit continue to guide and protect us.

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati

First implemented in 1993, the Decree on Child Protection is the backbone of our diligent work to comprehensively reform how the Church handles sexual abuse allegations. It establishes norms for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati both to protect children and vulnerable adults and to provide a system for promptly responding to allegations of abuse.

VIRTUS provides certification in the Protecting God’s Children training program, which has been in place in the archdiocese since 2012. Every priest, deacon, employee and volunteer in a position that involves possible contact with a youth or vulnerable adult is required to attend initial training and maintain monthly compliance.

The archdiocese utilizes an independent third party company to conduct background checks — which include the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation databases — on all clergy, employees and volunteers. Fingerprints are completed on every employee through SELECTION.com. Quarterly electronic background checks are conducted on every individual.

The Review Board serves as a consulting body to the archbishop. The Board advises the archbishop in his assessment of allegations of child abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults by clergy, employees or volunteers. The Board comprises Catholics of outstanding integrity and good judgment who practice the faith in full communion with the Church. All credible allegations of abuse are brought to the attention of the Review Board. 

To learn more about the Review Board or its members, please refer to the Decree on Child Protection.

The Safe Environment Office assists the archbishop in protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse. For several decades, the archdiocese has been working to ensure the safety of children against abuse. The Safe Environment Office was established to strengthen those efforts and ensure that our commitment to the safety of children is absolute.

Since 2012:

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THOUSAND

Virtus Trained
individuals

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THOUSAND

Completed
background checks

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Safe environment coordinators

Our Pledge to Heal

In an effort to provide genuine healing and support to victims, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Ministry to Survivors of Abuse coordinator has been serving people in our community for more than a decade. This coordinator helps people with healing and reconciliation after an appalling violation of their human dignity. Every person who makes a substantiated allegation of abuse is offered compassionate care through the pastoral and spiritual support of the Church, as well as counseling assistance with the counselor of their choosing for as long as it is helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the steps the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has undertaken to prevent sexual abuse of a minor in the Church?

The archdiocese has had policies and directives about child protection in place since 1993, when our Decree on Child Abuse first took effect. When the Decree on Child Abuse was implemented, the archdiocese made a commitment to evaluate the decree and its implementation every five years. The decree was revised and updated in 1998, and the title was changed to the Decree on Child Protection. In 2002, following a widespread revelation of sexual abuse in the Church, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) developed the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. In 2003, the Decree on Child Protection was again revised to be consistent with the USCCB’s charter. The archdiocese has continued to revise the decree and adopt the most recent revisions of the USCCB’s charter. The latest revision of the Decree on Child Protection took effect on July 1, 2018. 

All priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated religious, lay people, employees and volunteers who have contact with minors are required to complete background checks and Protecting God’s Children training program. This program teaches how to identify signs of misconduct and provides best practices for making churches, schools and communities safer. After the initial training, the Protecting God’s Children program requires ongoing monthly training to retain certification. Certified individuals are expected to help set the standard of behavior and report any misconduct.

The archdiocese uses SELECTION.com, a third-party security firm, to perform background checks. Since 2012, approximately 63,268 people have completed online background checks — approximately 8,240 of those electronic background checks were in 2019. Each individual's background is electronically rechecked quarterly. Fingerprints are completed once for the archdiocese and every five years for the Ohio Department of Education. 

Springing from the Decree for Child Protection, the Review Board serves as a consulting body to the archbishop. The Board advises the archbishop in his assessment of allegations of child abuse and abuse of vulnerable adults by clerics, employees and volunteers. Currently, the Board comprises 10 Catholics with outstanding integrity and good judgment who are in full communion with the Church. All credible allegations of abuse are brought to the attention of the Review Board.

The archdiocese participates in the USCCB’s annual audit of Catholic dioceses and eparchies in the United States to assess compliance with and implementation of the policies and programs found within the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. During the audit, an independent firm reviews prevention and reporting training of both children and adults, as well as background checks for those whose service brings them into contact with children. The auditors research the programs the archdiocese uses, the frequency of required training and background checks, and our means of data collection. In addition to the annual audit, an on-site audit is conducted every three years, accompanied by in-person interviews of all key diocesan personnel involved with child and youth protection and victim assistance. The archdiocese has passed every yearly audit since 2006.

In an effort to provide genuine healing and support to victims, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Ministry to Survivors of Abuse coordinator has been serving people in our community for more than a decade. This coordinator helps people with healing and reconciliation after an appalling violation of their human dignity. Every person who makes a substantiated allegation of abuse is offered compassionate care through the pastoral and spiritual support of the Church, as well as counseling assistance with the counselor of their choosing for as long as it is helpful.

What happens when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati receives a report of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest?

When an allegation is received by any entity of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati concerning sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, it is immediately reported to the civil authorities and to the chancellor. The chancellor confirms the information has been sent to the civil authorities, and then the archdiocese cooperates with the civil authorities in their investigation of the report.

If the allegation has a semblance of truth — meaning it could have possibly happened — and if removing the priest does not interfere with any police investigation, the priest is immediately removed from ministry, pending an investigation. The Ministry to Survivors of Abuse coordinator offers outreach and assistance to the victim and his or her family. If doing so does not interfere with the police investigation, the archdiocese retains a professional investigator to conduct an investigation of the report.

Once the investigation is complete, the report and all relevant documentation are shared with the archdiocese’s Review Board, which examines all the available evidence before advising the archbishop on a recommended determination.

No priest who has been found to have sexually abused a minor is eligible for ministry in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

When did the Archdiocese of Cincinnati begin publishing a list of clerics with substantiated allegations of child abuse?

In 2004, the archdiocese published on its website the first list of clerics with substantiated allegations of child abuse. The list included those incardinated clerics of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who had cases in progress at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as the names of those men who had already been laicized and those who were permanently removed from ministry.

In 2019, Section II of this list was added to include clerics not incardinated in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati but who have ministered in the archdiocese. The names in Section II were provided to the archdiocese and based on investigations conducted by third parties, such as religious orders whose members have ministered in the archdiocese at some point.

Has the Archdiocese of Cincinnati ever opened its files for examination by civil law enforcement?

Yes. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati turned over all relevant files to a sitting grand jury in 2002. Since that time, by a standing protocol, the archdiocese promptly reports any allegation of abuse to the appropriate civil authority in the county in which the alleged abuse occurred.

Does the archdiocese notify law enforcement whenever it becomes aware of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, even when the misconduct took place many years ago?

When an allegation is received by any entity of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, it is immediately reported to the civil authorities and the chancellor. The information is typically reported to the prosecutor’s office in the county in which the alleged abuse occurred, even if the misconduct took place many years ago. The archdiocese also cooperates with investigations by law enforcement.

What is the process for reporting sexual abuse of a minor by Church personnel?

Please report any suspected abuse on the part of any agent of the archdiocese to the appropriate civil authorities, typically the prosecutor’s office in the county in which the alleged abuse occurred.

Additionally, you can report concerns online or by calling the Ministry to Survivors of Abuse coordinator at 513-263-6623 or 1-800-686-2724, ext. 6623.

If you see something, please say something.

If you are a member of the clergy or a Church employee or volunteer and have reason to believe that a minor has been sexually abused by a bishop, priest, deacon or Church employee or volunteer, you must report your suspicions.

What resources and assistance does the Church offer to victims of sexual abuse by priests?

All who make a substantiated allegation of abuse against a cleric or other representative of the Church are offered:

— Compassionate care from the Ministry to Survivors of Abuse coordinator.

— Pastoral and spiritual support from the Church.

— Counseling assistance with the counselor of their choosing for as long as it is helpful. The Church will continue to pay for counseling sessions to support these survivors on their journey of healing.

What does the Archdiocese of Cincinnati do to establish the suitability of a priest assigned for ministry in the archdiocese?

The archdiocese is committed to ensuring that the men who will be ordained to the priesthood are indeed suitable for ministry in the Church and worthy of the trust of the Catholic faithful. Every applicant to the seminary undergoes a full battery of psychological testing prior to acceptance into the seminary program. In addition to spiritual and academic formation during his years in seminary, a man’s disposition, behavior, self-awareness, and stability and goodness of character are evaluated. When a man discerns that God might be calling him to the priesthood, the Church has a duty to discern that call as well to make sure that he is truly called and of the right character to serve faithfully and well.

What can the faithful do to support victims of abuse and ensure a safe environment in the Church?

The sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy has had a profound effect on the body of Christ, the people of God. This is not something that we can or should forget, because the terrible reality of what happened has lasting repercussions for victims, their families, the communities involved and our Church as a whole.

As Catholics, we turn to Christ’s words and examples to guide us. Christ calls us to:

Pray: Prayer is the foundation of our daily life. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for our clergy and all who minister in the Church. And pray to the Blessed Mother, asking her to guide the Church and provide comfort and healing to those who were harmed.

Take action: There are many actions that we can take to help comfort victims and combat abuse in the Church and society. For example:

— Educate yourself about child abuse and how to prevent it by completing our 

archdiocesan VIRTUS training program, Protecting God’s Children.

— Teach your children about personal safety.

— Report any concerns you have about the abuse of a minor to civil authorities. In addition, you can report concerns online or by calling the Ministry for Survivors of Abuse coordinator at 513-263-6623 or 1-800-686-2724, ext. 6623.

— Ask what you can do to assist with safe environment efforts at your parish or school.

— Volunteer at a community agency that is dedicated to victims of violence and sexual abuse.

— Incorporate prayer for victims into existing parish prayer groups or Eucharistic adoration.

We must continue to support victims, keep them in our prayers and completely commit ourselves to ensuring a safe environment for children and vulnerable adults. We cannot allow ourselves to forget and become complacent — our dedication to these causes must be unwavering and must not cease.

Who are the contacts at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati pertaining to creating a safe environment?

Chancellor — Father Steve Angi
100 E. Eighth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513-421-3131
[email protected]

Safe Environment Coordinator — Bill Mitchell
100 E. Eighth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513-421-3131
[email protected]

Human Resources Director — Rob Reid
100 E. Eighth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513-421-3131
[email protected]