Why does the archdiocese want me to report sexual abuse?
It is very important that you report any instance of abuse so you may begin healing, so justice may be served, and so no one else will be victimized. The archdiocese wants to ensure that all abuse is reported to appropriate civil and Church authorities to comply with civil and canon laws and the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, to take every measure possible to hold the perpetrator accountable, and to make resources available to help you restore your wholeness.
What can I expect if I contact the archdiocese?
If you make a complaint about any abuse by Church personnel, past or present, you can expect that the Victim Assistance Coordinator will listen to you, make a complete report and answer your questions about the process of reporting abuse. The Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will help you through the reporting process. Making a report is often the first step toward healing and recovery.
What will the archdiocese do about the perpetrator?
All reports of sexual abuse will be referred immediately to the civil authorities. The archbishop and other appropriate archdiocesan officials will be notified.
Any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult will result in the alleged perpetrator’s temporary removal from ministry until an investigation is concluded. If civil authorities are unable to pursue an investigation of the allegation, the archdiocese will refer the case to an independent investigator, who will take into account the rights of all parties. The Diocesan Review Board examines the findings of all investigations and ensures that all perpetrators are permanently removed from ministry. Throughout this process, the VAC is available for support and is your contact person for status updates.
How will the archdiocese help me?
It is our responsibility to hear your pain and support your recovery and healing, knowing that nothing by way of apology or resources can fully erase your suffering. We strive to assist each person in an individualized manner with recovery to a healthy and whole life. Resources may include: psychotherapy with the therapist of your choice at archdiocesan expense, referral to community agencies and resources, spiritual direction, and listening opportunities with the archbishop.
What is the archdiocese doing to prevent the sexual abuse of other people?
The archdiocese has implemented a comprehensive Safe Environment Program with all personnel, volunteers working with minors, and students in parishes and schools throughout the archdiocese. All clergy, personnel, and anyone volunteering with minors must:
- Receive training in recognizing and reporting child abuse.
- Undergo a criminal background check every 5 years.
- Review and abide by a Code of Ethical Standards
- Review and understand the Mandatory Reporting Requirements in the State of Wisconsin.
- All students in Catholic programs receive age-appropriate education in recognizing, resisting, and reporting sexual abuse.
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Clergy Sexual Abuse Policy
There is a sacred relationship that exists between the Church and its members, whether they be adult or child. Sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and/or sexual exploitation, when it occurs within the context of the Church, creates a tragic reality which misrepresents the Good News to those who have been victimized. Each and every instance of sexual violation of those who are the most vulnerable among us is a matter of the gravest concern and calls for an organized archdiocesan response so that healing may occur and the safety of the community can be assured.
If you or someone you know is being abused or you suspect abuse is occurring, contact your local law enforcement department immediately. Any instance of abuse involving a person currently under 18 years of age (minor) should immediately be reported to the civil authorities. Locate the civil authorities in the 10 counties of the archdiocese.
If you or someone you know was abused as a minor by clergy or church personnel, call your local police, sheriff or district attorney’s office to file a criminal report.
Reports can also be made to the Victim Assistance Coordinator who is available to support abuse survivors. A formal complaint of abuse can be made to the archdiocese by calling the Victim Assistance Coordinator at 414-758-2232.
An alternative way to make a formal report for those not wanting to contact the archdiocese is available to you 24 hours a day/7 days a week through the Healing Center website or by calling 414-219-5555.
Reporting to Authorities
Every report of clergy sexual abuse of a minor, regardless of when the offense occurred, will be taken seriously. When an allegation is made against a cleric who is still alive, whether currently in ministry or not, all such reports will be handed over promptly to the district attorney of the county in which the alleged offense took place. The archdiocese commits itself to a policy of cooperation with the civil officials who are charged with handling these matters.
If the civil authorities cannot proceed with criminal action for any reason and the case is returned to the archdiocese, there will be a thorough investigation of allegations using an established process which includes the Diocesan Review Board and an independent investigator. In accordance with the provisions of canon 1722, the cleric will be removed from any current ministry assignment or exercise of ministry and prohibited from any public exercise of ministry while the investigation is underway. The investigator will take whatever steps are needed to arrive at a compilation of facts in the case. The archdiocese commits itself to full cooperation in this independent investigative process. The Diocesan Review Board is charged with making recommendations to the archbishop regarding the substantiation of the allegation and suitability for ministry.
In every case, upon conviction, plea of guilty, or determination by the Diocesan Review Board process that there is a preponderance of evidence that a cleric has sexually abused a minor, the Diocesan Review Board will make its recommendation to the archbishop. If the allegation is substantiated, exercising his episcopal authority, the archbishop will permanently remove the cleric from active ministry and divest him of authority to function as a cleric in any capacity. Proper canonical procedures will be observed at all stages.
Did you know that the archdiocese has about 175 Safeguarding All God’s Children training sessions annually? Since 2002, over 85,000 adults have been trained. Over 50,000 children participate in age appropriate safe environment training in our Catholic schools and religious education programs annually.
Additionally, every employee – including clergy, employees at the central offices, parish staff and Catholic school faculty and staff – is required to complete Safe Environment Training, sign a Code of Ethical Standards, and pass a criminal background check, which includes a search of national and state criminal databases, as well as sex offender registries.
Find out more information about our programs with the links below.
Safe Environment Office
Register for Safe Environment Training
Contact information for all 10 counties of the archdiocese
Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, founded in 1845 and located in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, forms the hearts, minds and souls of men called by Jesus Christ to serve God's people as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. This provincial seminary forms priests for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the other dioceses of Wisconsin, and beyond. The formation integrates the human, pastoral, spiritual and intellectual dimensions of the Program of Priestly Formation. In a particular way, Saint Francis de Sales Seminary is committed to Safe Environment Education, and to forming priests who are dedicated to safeguarding all of God’s children. This training for our priests is a grave responsibility – a responsibility that we accept with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Our efforts contribute to the ongoing work of the Church in the Unites States to carry out the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
St. Francis de Sales Seminary