Policy Regarding Sexual Abuse of Minors
As Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to participate in the Mission of Jesus. Our choice of ministry is in keeping with our BVM Mission: being freed and helping others enjoy freedom in God’s steadfast love. We have chosen to participate in that mission in our vowed life as BVMs.
[Constitutions #10, Directory #2]
In fidelity to our call to the mission of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary we are committed to respect the dignity and well-being of every individual. Developing relationships with integrity is central to who we are as BVMs. Accordingly, the Congregation will take appropriate measures, as defined by this statement of policy and procedures, for prevention of sexual abuse of minors and for responsible intervention whenever a member of the Congregation engages in this behavior. These procedures are intended to protect the rights of all concerned parties while providing pastoral care for all.
Each BVM shall maintain the integrity of the ministerial relationship, which is by definition one of trust. Failure to do so violates not only Christian ethics but causes serious damage to individuals and to the entire human community. Given the position a sister holds vis-a-vis those to whom she ministers, sexual abuse of a minor is always inappropriate, harmful, morally objectionable and never permissible.
In the event that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is made against a member of the Congregation, the response by the Congregation will be characterized by pastoral care for the person making the allegation and the sister who is accused, as well as concern for the well-being of the Congregation. Care will be taken to treat all persons in a manner consistent with the gospel values of charity, understanding, compassion, justice and dignity leading toward healing for all involved. When an allegation of sexual abuse is made, it is understood that the rights of every individual will be protected.
This Policy and Procedures applies to all resident candidates, novices and professed members of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
*Note that definitions for terms are given in Section IV.
III. Prevention and Education
- All potential candidates for membership in the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary are assessed regarding family background and psychosexual development by a qualified psychologist.
- The Congregation will provide opportunities and educational materials for members of the Congregation to help them recognize and prevent sexual abuse of minors. It is the individual member’s responsibility to be cognizant of appropriate behaviors in relationships and to maintain integrity in all ministerial interactions.
- Sisters who have been sexually abused as children or as adults are encouraged to receive professional help.
- The Congregation will provide support for any Sister who has been a victim of abuse. A Sister who has suffered from sexual abuse is encouraged to speak to the Canonical Representative or to another resource person.
- The Canonical Representative is the BVM President or her delegate. The other persons assisting the Canonical Representative may be a member of the Council/Regionals or a person with expertise in addressing sexual abuse matters.
- Accused is the term used to identify the person against whom allegations and/or a claim of sexual abuse are made.
- Accuser is the term used to identify the person claiming knowledge of sexual abuse. The accuser may or may not be the alleged victim.
- Sexual abuse of a minor is any sexual activity between two or more persons, one of whom is under the age of eighteen, as defined under applicable state law.
- Victim is the term used to identify the person who has been subjected to sexual abuse.
For Victim Assistance, call: 563.599.6328