Note: The Franciscans have published the following information as a brochure: “A Response to Sexual Misconduct: Maintaining Boundaries in Ministerial Relationships.” This brochure has been distributed to all Franciscan parishes and retreat houses in the St. Barbara Province and is available in both English and Spanish. Copies can be freely obtained at the parishes and retreat houses, by contacting the Pastoral Outreach Coordinator (see below), or by downloading the brochure directly from this site.
To view and download the brochure you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.
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A Response to Sexual Misconduct:
Maintaining Boundaries in Ministerial Relationships
“The Light Shines in the Darkness and the Darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
The Franciscan Friars of the Santa Barbara Province
The Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara recognizes that sexual misconduct by friars has devastating consequences for victims and their families, for the lay and religious communities, and for the perpetrators. During the last decade, we have become increasingly aware of the effects of this tragic behavior and have developed a steadfast commitment to helping those affected.
This brochure is intended to provide basic information and (1) how the Province defines sexual misconduct within ministerial relationships, (2) what its procedures are for responding to complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior , and (3) to whom those subjected to sexual misconduct can turn for help.
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT IN A MINISTERIAL RELATIONSHIP
A ministerial relationship is one which a person receives pastoral care from a religious, including:
• Members of religious communities
• Spiritual directors and pastoral counselors
Sexual misconduct is a general term that encompasses sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and sexual abuse.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexualized conduct or language between co-workers in the church setting. It may include, but is not limited to:
• Unsolicited sexual advances and propositions
• The use of sexually degrading words to describe an individual or his/her body
• The telling of inappropriate or sexually-charged jokes
• Retaliation against a co-worker who refuses sexual advances
• Offers of preferential treatment such as promotions, positive performance evaluations, or favor- ably assigned duties or shifts in exchange for sexual favors
Sexual exploitation consists of sexual contact between a religious and person receiving pastoral care from him.
Sexual abuse is sexual contact between a religious and minor or vulnerable adult.
Sexual exploitation or sexual abuse can include physical contact or actions such as:
• Sexual touch or other physical contact that makes the person being touched feel uncomfortable
• Giving a sexually charged gift (such as lingerie)
• A prolonged hug when a brief hug is customary behavior
• Kissing on the lips when a kiss on the cheek would be appropriate
• Showing sexually suggestive objects or pornography
• Sexual intercourse, anal, or oral sex
Sexual exploitation or sexual abuse can also include verbal behavior such as:
• Innuendo or sexual talk
• Suggestive comments
• Descriptions of sexual experiences, fantasies, or conflicts
• Sexual propositions
To be clear, the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara’s stance is this: Sexual misconduct-whether harassment, exploitation, or abuse-by friars, employees, and volunteers is contrary to Catholic morals, doctrine, and canon law. It is never acceptable in a pastoral relationship with a parishioner, employee, spiritual directee, counseling client, or anyone who has sought the church’s ministry.
It is not uncommon for those who seek the church’s ministry to feel attracted to a religious or to be flattered by his attention. A layperson’s attraction to a friar or enjoyment in being the object of his sexual interest does not excuse any form of sexual misconduct on his part, however. It is entirely the responsibility of the religious to maintain appropriate emotional and sexual boundaries with those with whom he works and/or serves.
HOW THE PROVINCE RESPONDS TO COMPLAINTS OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
The Province of St. Barbara responds to all allegations of sexual misconduct with great care. To ensure that we handle each instance promptly, thoroughly, and compassionately, the Province has established an Office of Pastoral Outreach. The Pastoral Outreach Coordinator is a lay professional who will listen to, understand, and offer help, including appropriate psychological counseling for those affected by friar misconduct.
The Province, through the Pastoral Outreach Coordinator and independent investigators will respond swiftly to evaluate and investigate any accusation of sexual misconduct by a friar. Any friars who have engaged in the sexual abuse of a minor will join the province Aftercare Program. This rigorous relapse prevention program provides appropriate psychological treatment specific for offenders, and entails ongoing monitoring and supervision for the rest of their lives in the Order.
The Province, consistent with the directives of the Catholic Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, has also established the Province Review Board (PRB). This interdisciplinary board of lay professionals advises the Province on all matters related to sexual misconduct.
PREVENTING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
In addition to establishing procedures for responding to sexual misconduct, the Province has undertaken a series of measures to prevent future incidents of abuse. These include extensive mandatory psychological evaluation of seminarians and novices before they enter formation and the provision of continuing education programs for friars about issues of sexuality and personal conduct.
It is our firm belief that religious must maintain appropriate boundaries with laypersons in order to preserve the integrity of the ministerial relationship. Moreover, we call upon those with knowledge of a friar’s inappropriate behavior-whether past or present-to come forward with this information so that innocent victims may be spared from further harm. In short, we ask everyone to join with us to protect the safety of children, women, and men, and with firm determination, to promote healing where there is pain.
WHERE TO TURN FOR HELP
If you or someone you know believe that a friar has violated the boundaries outlined in this pamphlet, we urge you to report such behavior immediately to the Pastoral Outreach Coordinator (POC) or the Provincial Minister. Your case will be handled with the strictest sensitivity and confidentiality.
This is the contact information for the Pastoral Outreach Office:
Pastoral Outreach Office
Angelica Jochim, MFT
Pastoral Outreach Coordinator (POC)
P.O. Box 1137
Sebastapol, CA 95473
This is the contact information for the Province:
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA. 94601
© Copyright by The Franciscan Friars of the Province of Santa Barbara 2006. This information may be reproduced without permission.