"The first obligation of the Church with regard to victims/survivors is healing and reconciliation. Each diocese is to continue its outreach to every person who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone in church service, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years in the past". Promise to Protect; Pledge to Heal – USCCB 2002 (Revised 2005 and 2010)
Article 1. "Dioceses will reach out to victims/survivors and their families and demonstrate a sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being."
Article 2. "Dioceses are to have a competent person or persons to coordinate assistance for the immediate care of persons who report having been sexually abused as minors by clergy or other church personnel."
Promise to Protect; Pledge to Heal – USCCB 2002 (Revised 2005 and 2010)
Office of Child and Youth Protection
The Archdiocese of San Francisco has established the Office of Child and Youth Protection. This office includes the services of a licensed therapist who serves as Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC). The VAC, Rocio Rodriguez, can be reached at (415) 614-5506. This is a secure line answered only by the VAC. The VAC email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to help victim/survivors make a formal complaint to the archdiocese and offers pastoral support and assistance with psychotherapy, spiritual direction, and referrals to other supportive services that meet the needs of the individual or family seeking assistance.
In addition, the Archdiocese maintains a Survivor Help Line. This is also a secure line and is monitored/answered by survivors. The Survivor Help Line number is (415) 614-5503.
What Happens When Someone Reports an Allegation of Abuse to the Archdiocese?
- The Victim Assistance Coordinator will ask if this has been reported to Child Protective Services or the Police Department. If not, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will inform the person that the policy of the Archdiocese is to report the matter to the proper civil authorities. If the victim is a current minor the report is made to Child Protective Services if the abuser and victim are living in the same household. If the alleged minor victim and the accused do not share a household the report is made to the Sheriff's Department or Police Department. If the victim is no longer a minor the report is made to the local District Attorney's office. (See "How to Report Suspected Abuse")
- The preliminary facts gathered by the Victim Assistance Coordinator will be referred to a qualified investigator (i.e. retired policeman/woman) who prepares a detailed report for consideration by the Archdiocesan Independent Review Board (IRB). When the preliminary investigation (e.g. the initial information gathered by the Victim Assistance Coordinator and /or the supplemental information obtained by the investigator) so indicates, the alleged perpetrator shall be relieved of active employment/ministry (placed on administrative leave) pending the conclusion of the investigation. The IRB then makes its recommendation to the Archbishop as to whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain that the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.
- The Archbishop and/or the Victim Assistance Coordinator will share the finding of the Independent Review Board and the Archbishop's determination concerning the investigation with the alleged victim and perpetrator. In the event there is a determination that abuse occurred and the alleged perpetrator is a clergyman, he will be informed of his canonical right to request a canonical trial. If a clergyman admits that the abuse occurred, or chooses not to contest the matter, or the finding is sustained at trial then, pursuant to the Bishops Charter (Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal: Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People), the individual will be permanently removed from ministry.
A Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse
God of endless love,
Ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:
You gave your only Son over suffering and death.
Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
Join to your own suffering
The pain of all who have been hurt
In body, mind, and spirit
By those who betrayed the trust placed in them.
Hear our cries as we agonize
Over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
Soothe restless hearts with hope,
Steady shaken spirits with faith:
Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
Enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.
Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
Heal your people’s wounds
And transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace,
So that we may act with justice
And find peace in you. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. AMEN.
USCCB, c. 2004