Primary Educators League

Assisting parents in the eternal vigil of protecting the freedom and holiness of their families.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

U.S. Bishops Relax Auditing Requirements of Safe Environments Programs

The U.S. Catholic bishops quietly released some new information on May 15, 2006 with regard to their mandated safe environments programs according to a story published by the Catholic News Service.

The new regulations state that future compliance audits will not judge a diocese or eparchy as compliant only if every eligible child and adult has participated in the safe environment program.

Future audits only need to verify that an ongoing program is in place and that there is proof that a reason exists for nonparticipation.

'The major focus here is on verifying that a program exists, and that the diocese/eparchy is doing what is humanly possible to educate children and adults in safe environments,' said the new regulations.

Additionally, the bishops have also made an official ruling that parents who object may opt their children out of the safe environments programs. While this was not an issue for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, it has been an issue in many dioceses across the country where parents were given a choice - either have your children participate or leave the Catholic school. From the beginning, Archbishop Flynn has given parents the ability to opt their children out and we thank him for that.

It also appears that the U.S. bishops have made a ruling that if you choose not to have your child participate in the safe environments program, you do not need to sign a form stating you are opting your child out. The administrators of the program will just mark you down as having opted out. This is also good news for those of you wondering what legal issues you might be getting yourself in to should you sign the document stating you are opting your child out.

Under the new regulations adopted by the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee, dioceses and eparchies are still required to provide the safe environment programs. Parents, however, can choose not to have their children participate. In such cases, the parents are to be offered training materials and asked to sign a form attesting to their decision not to have their children participate. If parents do not sign the form, a church administrator is to file a form noting the opt-out decision.

Word continues to spread in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis about the option parishes and priests have to choose a Catholic program such as "Formation in Christian Chastity." Just a reminder that your pastor will need to write to Archbishop Flynn to request the use of this program.

31 parishes have been approved to use "Formation in Christian Chastity." To see a continually updated list of parishes, please click here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Important National Catholic Register article on "Formation in Christian Chastity" (FICC)

National Catholic Register has been publishing an ongoing series on the American Bishops' mandated safe environments programs.

This past week they published their fifth in a series entitled, "Chastity, not abuse, is Harrisburg Focus." This is an important article for those advocating the use of FICC in your parish.

Please be sure to share this article with fellow parents, parishioners, administrators, teachers and your pastor.

Several other articles from the National Catholic Register may be of interest and are linked below:

"Parents question safety programs:"

"Are Safe Environment Programs Safe?" (interview with Bishop Vasa)

"Protecting kids from protection programs:"

Part 4: "Preventing Abuse: Is VIRTUS Virtuous?"

Monday, May 15, 2006

24 Parishes Approved for "Formation in Christian Chastity" (FICC)

Dear parents,

We are thankful Archbishop Flynn has approved the use of “Formation in Christian Chastity” (FICC), also known as the Harrisburg program, for use in 24 parishes in this archdiocese! This represents just over 10% of all the parishes in the archdiocese of which there are 220 parishes in total.

Please thank your pastors for writing to Archbishop Flynn to request the use of this alternative program.

We have heard several pastors say that they do not want to go against the wishes of the Archbishop. We certainly are not encouraging any priest to go against the wishes of the Archbishop. The priests have sworn an oath of obedience to him. That being said, pastors are not going against Archbishop Flynn when they write him to request an alternative “safe environments” program such as FICC. Since the beginning of the public statements about “safe environments” the Archbishop has graciously allowed pastors to petition him directly in writing to request the use of an alternative program as long as the program meets the guidelines of Article 12 of the Charter and that the auditors have already approved its use in other dioceses:

If your parish has not yet made a decision, there appears to still be time to do so. There are two upcoming deadlines. We believe the chancery would like to hear from as many parishes as possible by May 20th as to what they intend to use for their “safe environments” curricula. The final deadline we’ve heard is June 30th so that they can get product ordered for the ’06-’07 school year.

There is still time to respectfully and charitably engage your pastor, principal and director of religious education (DRE). Since the Church teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children in areas of life and love, get involved in the analysis, research, and decision making for your parish. While it’s up to the pastor to petition the archbishop, that does not mean he has to make this decision alone. Many pastors continue to ask for feedback and recommendations from parents. Get involved. Do your homework. Make sure your voice is heard.

Last week, The Catholic Spirit published the letter linked below in the Letters to the Editor section. We believe this is the first time “Formation in Christian Chastity” has been mentioned in The Catholic Spirit:

Please say a prayer of thanksgiving for Archbishop Flynn and his willingness to approve these parishes for FICC. Let’s also pray for all of those parishes who have not yet made a decision about these programs.

God bless,

Primary Educators League