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