Catholic Diocese of Wilmington - Charter for the Protection

An Independent audit has shown that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is being followed in Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Click here for details

Child protection expert approves diocesan safe-environment programs.

Annual Compliance Audit Shows Decline In Abuse Allegations, Victims, Offenders nationwide.


What has the Diocese of Wilmington and the Catholic Church in the United States done to respond to sexual abuse by church personnel and protect our children?


  • Across the country, over 2 million adults have been trained to recognize the behavior of offenders and what to do about it. Here in the Diocese of Wilmington, over 20,000 adults have taken the For the Sake of God’s Children safe environment training.
  • In the 193 dioceses/eparchies in the U.S., over 5 million children have been equipped with the skills to help protect themselves from abuse.  In our diocese, over 21,000 children have participated in the Keeping Our Promises curriculum for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.
  • Background checks are conducted on Church personnel who have contact with children.  In the U.S., over 2 million adults who work with children have had background checks.  Here in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, over 21,000 volunteers, coaches, priest, deacons, youth leaders, teachers and candidates for ordination have had their backgrounds checked.
  • Our diocese and all other dioceses in the U. S. have instituted Codes of Conduct for all those who have regular contact with children.
  • The Diocese of Wilmington and all diocese in the U.S. have appointed Survivor Assistance and Safe Environment coordinators  assuring help for survivors of sexual abuse and that our staff and volunteers are vigilant in protecting children.
  • Bishop Malooly and Bishops across the country have been meeting with survivors of clergy sexual abuse to hear their concerns as a vehicle to healing.
  • Seminarians are given extensive psychological evaluations and background checks before being accepted for seminary training.


The Catholic community in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore – our diocese – and the Church as a whole have worked hard to protect our precious children.  We must all remain vigilant until child sexual abuse is no longer a part of society.


Sourse: USCCB & Diocese of Wilmington data.


 What happens when an abuse is reported?

·    If the reported abuse is of a person currently a minor a report is given to civil authority.  In Delaware, it is reported to the Attorney General’s Office.  In Maryland, it is reported to the local State’s Attorney. 

·    If a report is made by an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, we encourage the person to report it to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, or in the least permit us to report.  In Maryland all abuse, even reported by a survivor after achieving age of majority, must be reported to the State’s Attorney.

·    When a credible allegation is received regarding a priest currently in ministry or living in retirement, he is removed from ministry and not permitted to function or present himself as a priest.  The case is reported to the Vatican, and in some instances a request is made to laicize the priest.  These actions apply to any priest found to have credibly committed the crime. 

In Delaware, the crime of child sexual abuse can be criminally prosecuted if it occurred after July 1987.  

In Maryland, there is a mandatory reporting law (since 1983) and no Statute of Limitations on criminal prosecution. 

In Delaware, since the passage of Legislation known as Senate Bill 29 (The Child Victims Act), any case of childhood sexual abuse can be civilly litigated.

What does the Diocese do for survivors? 

In accord with Article 1 of the Charter for the Protection Children and Young People the Diocese reaches out to survivors and their families demonstrating a sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well being.  Our first obligation to survivors of clergy sexual abuse is healing and reconciliation.  A representative of the Diocese speaks with the survivor (and/or family) apologizing for the offense, listening to the survivor’s experience, and offering counseling, spiritual help, and providing for therapy either through counselors at Catholic Charities or agreeing to pay for expenses incurred by the survivor if he/she chooses other counseling opportunities.

We are committed to survivor outreach and their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. 

Our Diocese, again in compliance with Church policy set out in the Charter, has appointed a Survivor Assistance Coordinator, a licensed therapist/counselor with many years of experience in handling sexual abuse, to coordinate assistance for survivors f clergy sexual abuse.  The services offered by the Diocese are in place for each survivor for as long as necessary.  In many cases, this assistance is given for years.  In several cases the Diocese has settled with survivors, paying in lump sum expected medical expenses into the future based on expert advice.

As a matter of policy the Diocese will attempt to settle, through mediation, claims filed in civil court. 

What does the Diocese do to prevent child sexual abuse?

In 2003 the Diocese implemented a safe environment program entitled “For the Sake of God’s Children” throughout the Diocese of Wilmington.  The program was written by and for the people of our Diocese. It now serves as the model in at least three other Dioceses in the country.   Since that time more than 20,000 persons have participated in background checks, committed to the ethical standards or volunteer covenant, and received education about the nature of and prevention of child abuse in all its forms.  

“For the Sake of God’s Children” is the comprehensive safe environment program.  The chief aspects of the program are:

·         A process to assess suitability for ministry through criminal background checks. The Bishop, all priests, deacons, seminarians, religious brothers and sisters, as well as lay employees and volunteers participate in this process. Background checks allow the Diocese to issue Certificates of Clearance to the parishes for each of the employees and volunteers who work with youth and young people on a regular, recurring basis.

·         Ethical and Behavioral Standards for all church personnel.

·         Guidelines for establishing a safe environment in the parish communities and institutions of the diocese.

·         Educational information for local training of teachers, parents, volunteers, and children (pamphlets, articles, video presentations, web notes).

Who is affected by the program?

Parishes and other institutions are responsible for the implementation of the program.  All professional Church personnel and all non-compensated personnel who have regular contact with children and youth are required to participate in education and have the appropriate background checks and ethical standards completed before beginning their ministry/activity.  Each parish/school annually conducts an orientation training program for all employees/volunteers within the respective areas of ministry or activity.

What about education for our children?

In the fall 2006, the Diocese began full implementation of “Keeping Our Promises,” a safe environment curriculum for pre-k through grade 12.  It is based on the elements of a safe environment such as secrets, bullying, harassment, healing, life as a gift from God, etc.

Each of these concepts is developed in an age appropriate lesson which teachers integrate into their normal teaching activities.  The curriculum is used both in our Catholic Schools and in our Religious Education Programs. 

We assure compliance through an annual audit process conducted by independent auditors at the direction of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


For More Information

Click here for information about
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young people:

Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

Keeping Our Promises

Click here for information about the
For the Sake of God’s Children program:

Catholic Diocese of Wilmington

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