Letter From The Bishop: The Protection of Children
Monday, 16 November 2015 00:00

Letter form The Bishop: The Protection of Children

November 14, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Children are a gift from God. Because of their youth and inexperience, they deserve to be protected by adults, especially in the Church. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case. Over time, some priests and religious have betrayed the trust placed in them and perpetrated acts that have done grave damage to victims and to the Church. This must never happen again.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Diocese of Youngstown are committed to preventing the sexual or emotional abuse of children and to aiding those who have been abused to experience healing. A new film called Spotlight, which dramatizes the Boston Globe's investigation into the sexual abuse crisis in that area, most likely will rekindle the debate about child protection in the Church. Within that context, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight what we are doing to keep every child safe.

First and foremost, it must be stated again that the abuse of an innocent child is an unspeakable evil for which we, the Church, continually must express our sorrow and ask for forgiveness for not handling this well in the past. Learning from those mistakes, we have been and will continue to be aggressive in confronting this problem and rooting out perpetrators from among the clergy.

In June 2002, USCCB promulgated The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which is a "set of procedures...for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Clergy." Included in the Charter are strategies for "reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse."

The Charter has been fully implemented within the Diocese of Youngstown. We have instituted new and more thorough psychological testing programs to identify potential problems before a man enters the seminary. We have a comprehensive Diocesan child protection policy that can be found on our website and we have a pro-active Office of Child Protection which is available to help any victim at any time.

When the Diocese receives an allegation of sexual abuse, we immediately notify the appropriate civil authorities. All allegations also are reported to our Diocesan Review Board. The Board is comprised of experts in the fields of civil law, Church law, child care, law enforcement, medicine, and psychology. If after an investigation by professionals, the Board judges an allegation to be credible, they report their conclusion to me and the accused member of the clergy is removed permanently from active ministry.

Furthermore, we have worked to create safe environments at our churches and schools. Under the direction of our Office of Child Protection, seminarians, clergy, teachers, parish staff members, and volunteers undergo complete background checks. All those who work with children are required to participate in child protection education programs in order for them to know how to recognize the signs of child abuse and to whom it should be reported.

Children in our schools and religious education programs, likewise, are trained in safe environment principles and taught what constitutes inappropriate behavior and what action to take if someone attempts to harm them.

If a child is the victim of sexual abuse or if an adult was a victim, the Diocese of Youngtown reaches out to the person to aid with healing. I offer to meet with each victim personally. In addition, we provide counseling for any victim who requests it.

Because other civic entities also have faced this problem, we have shared our policies and procedures with all those who have requested them. It is my hope that we can work together to eliminate this pernicious stain on the Church and society.

If you would like more information about the response of the Diocese of Youngstown to allegations of sexual abuse, please contact Dr. Thomas D. Sauline, Administrator of Child Protection at 330-744-8451. He can be reached confidentially at 330-599-4300 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

I ask you to be alert and report to your local police and the Diocese any suspicions of sexual abuse, and I ask you to pray for the victims of sexual abuse that they find healing and peace.

With prayers and best wishes, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ,


Most Reverend George V. Murry, SJ
Bishop of Youngstown