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The Archdiocese of St. Louis ("the Archdiocese") is committed to protecting children and youth from sexual abuse. Since 1990, the Archdiocese has had a policy and procedures to give guidance to its employees, volunteers, religious, and clergy regarding child abuse and to address the needs of persons affected by child abuse. The following policy and procedures have been adopted to address the particular situation in which an employee, volunteer, or religious working in the Archdiocese or in any parish, school or agency/office of the Archdiocese (hereinafter individually and collectively referred to as "church personnel"), or a member of the clergy (hereinafter referred to as a "cleric"), is accused of sexual abuse of a minor. An allegation of this type of abuse has serious consequences for the person alleged to have been abused and his/her family, for the person accused, and for the larger community.
In accord with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People ("Charter"), it is the policy of the Archdiocese that when even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor is established by an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending person will not serve as a member of the clergy in active ministry or hold a position working in proximity to children as an employee or volunteer in the Archdiocese or in any parish, school, or agency/office of the Archdiocese. All clergy and other church personnel who minister in the Archdiocese are expected to be familiar with this policy and to comply with the procedures adopted to implement the policy. The Archdiocese will make available the resources required to implement the policy and procedures. By following this policy, the Archdiocese hopes to offer spiritual and psychological assistance as needed to any victim/survivor and to respect the civil and canonical rights of the accused while seeking to assist him or her.
Proceedings pursuant to this policy shall be conducted in compliance with civil law and in accordance with ecclesiastical law, in particular the motu proprio Normae de
Gravioribus Delictis of Pope Benedict XVI, the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons of the USCCB, and the Code of Canon Law.
For the purpose of this policy, any person under 18 years of age is considered a minor. These policies also apply if a person 18 years of age or older habitually lacks the use of reason.
For the purpose of this policy, any external, objectively grave violation of the Sixth Commandment of Decalogue with a minor is considered sexual abuse of a minor.
For the purpose of this policy, the acquisition, possession or distribution of images of a minor for purposes of sexual gratification is considered child abuse.
[i] According to the Essential Norms, the norm to be considered in assessing an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is whether conduct or interaction with a minor qualifies as an external, objectively grave violation of the sixth commandment (USCCB, Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct and Dismissal from the Clerical State, 1995, p. 6). A canonical offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue (CIC, c. 1395 §2; CCEO, c. 1453 §1) need not be a complete act of intercourse. Nor, to be objectively grave, does an act need to involve force, physical contact, or a discernible harmful outcome. Moreover, "imputability [moral responsibility] for a canonical offense is presumed upon external violation…unless it is otherwise apparent" (CIC, c. 1321 §3; CCEO, c. 1414 §2).Cf. CIC, canons 1322-27, and CCEO, canons 1413, 1415, and 1416.
[ii] An allegation is deemed to be substantiated when based upon a preponderance of evidence and, after assessing all available information, the allegation is believed to be true.