Bishop Ricken

Bishop's Corner

The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

Photo of Bishop Ricken

Safe environment remains priority

By | January 11, 2012

A single case of sexual abuse of a minor by the clergy is one case too many. The grim reality that we live with as a church is that sexual abuse of children by clergy exists. Since 2002, when the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church exploded in the media, we have learned much and become much more vigilant in putting awareness and programs of protection in place throughout our diocese.

Though it has been over 16 years since a reported incident of clergy sexual abuse occurred in our diocese, I wish that number were 60 years rather than 16, but we again have to live with the reality.

Without exception, I am humbled and moved when I am visited by a person who has been sexually victimized by a member of the clergy. In hearing their experiences and the trauma they have

and do suffer, I am ashamed that they endured abuse at the hands of a priest and am deeply moved by their willingness to share with me their journey as a survivor.

I hope that I am able to help them in some small way by listening to their experience and apologizing to each of them on behalf of the church, the diocese and myself as a member of the clergy. We do what we can to support them. Not a month goes by when we are not helping one or another person with advocacy, counseling and/or financial support for their basic needs. We pray for their healing each day.

We are blessed with a Spirit-filled and capable staff who work directly with people who are victims/survivors. The survivors who come to see us are generally sharing with us experiences that they have kept to themselves for 20, 30 and even 50 years and whose effects are still felt in the present day. To carry on the ministry of receiving a visit from these brothers and sisters and helping them on their healing journey is a tremendous blessing to the work we do as a church.

Our staff also works with thousands of people to ensure a safe environment for our children today. The staff in the diocesan Curia and the staff in the parishes, particularly the Local Safe Environment Coordinators (LoSec’s), who so often go unrecognized, are capable and professional.

In the last seven years, we’ve conducted background checks on approximately 24,000 employees and volunteers. Each person undergoes a new background check every four years.

Nearly 26,000 people have attended and participated in one or more of almost 1,200 training sessions featuring the VIRTUS program. Priests, deacons, administrators and employees who work closely with children receive ongoing education through monthly VIRTUS training bulletins. I read them, too! In addition, these bulletins can be downloaded and placed in parish bulletins or given to specific groups of people as an ongoing educational tool.

We have 125 active VIRTUS trained facilitators who help present VIRTUS in our diocesan parishes. Every August an annual two-day training is held.

If any of you are interested in becoming facilitators for your parish, I’m sure the Safe Environment Department would be happy to hear from you.

Ultimately, I am so grateful to each of you as the faithful of the Diocese of Green Bay. It is through your sacrifice and vigilance in undergoing the background checks and training that we are able to collectively provide the safe environment for our children and adults at risk as they are formed in the faith of our church.

As updated changes were made to our policy to protect children and adults at risk, which I promulgated in October 2011, I want to use this opportunity to express my gratitude but also to remind ourselves to keep our vigilance at a high level. We need to ensure that every child and adult at risk is protected from the possibility of sexual abuse by any adult. With my prayers and heartfelt appreciation, thank you!

Related Posts

Scroll to Top