November 9, 2020
Dear friends of Sacred Heart,
Today the McGrath Institute of Church Life published an article detailing the fruit of a working group that has been meeting over the last year to develop benchmarks for policies related to sexual abuse and reporting in seminaries. This important work began with a comprehensive survey done in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). Data from the survey provided the necessary information and context to help form relevant and timely benchmarks that will help keep our seminaries safe.
The benchmarks formed by the working group are as follows:
systematic training of seminarians, faculty, and staff regarding harassment policies
internal and external reporting and investigation procedures
periodic assessment of internal policies
consistency and portability of standards to suit local conditions
I was very pleased to be a part of the working group, composed of bishops, rectors, priests, and lay collaborators. The benchmarks we developed provide a workable and reasonable framework within which to develop protocols that fit each seminary community. In light of recent revelations, including the recently released report on sexual abuse and misconduct involving former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the McGrath Institute called on all seminaries and houses of formation to commit to the benchmarks for the benefit of seminary culture and formation. At Sacred Heart Major Seminary, we have already begun to answer this call by implementing some of these benchmarks (see our website and the tab on ‘Priestly Formation’) as well as articulating our own policies that ensure a healthy and safe environment for our seminarians. I look forward to continuing this work working with our formation team and administration.
I’m grateful to my colleagues in the working group for their collaborative work that allowed us to arrive at these effective benchmarks. And as always, I am grateful for the entire Sacred Heart community for our shared commitment to creating a safe environment in our seminary and throughout the local Church.
Sincerely in Christ,
Msgr. Todd J. Lajiness