ARCHDIOCESE OF HARTFORD

 

Code of Ministerial Behavior For Personnel of the Archdiocese

Who Have Regular Contact With Children or Young People

 

I.          Preamble

 

            Effective and proper ministerial or pastoral care of minors (defined as those under the age of eighteen years) depends upon the competence, quality, integrity and commitment of those who work with them.  This Code of Ministerial Behavior For Personnel of the Archdiocese Who Have Regular Contact With Children and Young People (hereinafter “this Code”) sets forth expectations placed on clergy, religious and laity involved in this important service.  This Code is not intended to address all situations that might arise in working with or ministering to children and young people.  Rather, it is intended to set forth certain standards and guidelines that will help to shape the behavior of those personnel of the Archdiocese who have regular contact with children and young people in a way that upholds Christian values and conduct.  Personnel of the Archdiocese for purposes of this Code includes clerics, religious, lay employees and lay volunteers who are employed by, under personal contract with or volunteer in and for any of the entities encompassed by the Archdiocese of Hartford.

 

II.        Responsibility

            The public and private conduct of clergy, religious, lay employees, and lay volunteers can inspire and motivate people, but it can also scandalize and undermine the people’s faith.  Clergy, religious, lay employees and lay volunteers must, at all times, be aware of the responsibilities that accompany their service to children and young people.  They must also know that God’s goodness and grace support them in their service.

 

Responsibility for adherence to this Code rests with the individual.  Any personnel of the Archdiocese having regular contact with children and young people who disregard or fail to comply with this Code will be subject to appropriate remedial action which may take various forms, from a verbal reproach to removal from service, depending upon the specific nature and circumstances of the offense and the extent of the harm.

 

III.       Standards

            1.         General Principles

The following fundamental principles, which derive from our Church teachings and traditions, shall apply to the behavior of all personnel of the Archdiocese who have regular contact with children and young people:

·        They will strive to exhibit the highest Christian ethical standards and personal integrity in their day-to-day work and personal lives, supporting the teachings, disciplines and traditions of the Catholic Church.

·        They will strive to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner in both church and work environments avoiding any flagrant or public misconduct.

·        They will respect the integrity of all individuals and protect the confidentiality and privacy of all information to which they have access.

·        They will not take unfair advantage of a pastoral relationship for their own benefit.

·        They will not physically, sexually or emotionally abuse or exploit anyone.

·        They will not neglect a minor who is in their care.

·        They will share concerns about inappropriate behavior with their pastor/parish coordinator, their administrator, their principal, or in cases where the behavior directly involves these people, with the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese.

·        They will report any suspected abuse or neglect of a minor (except for information obtained in the Sacrament of Reconciliation) to the appropriate civil authorities and to the Victims Assistance Coordinator of the Archdiocese.

 

            2.         Guidelines for Church Related Activities

 

A.        The following general guidelines are intended to prevent abuse of minors by preventing situations where abuse can occur:

 

(i)        When releasing minors from one’s care, to someone else’s care, they are to be released only to the custodial parent(s), legal guardian(s), or others who have the written permission of the custodial parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s).  If unsure, consult supervisors before releasing the child.

            Note:  This does not apply to the normal release of minors at the end of the normal school day or at the end of normal religious education hours.

(ii)       Report uncontrollable or unusual behavior of minors to parents or legal guardians and to supervisors.

(iii)     Use or possession of illegal drugs is prohibited at all times.

(iv)      Use of alcohol when working with minors is prohibited.

(v)       Supplying alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs and/or tobacco products to minors is prohibited.

(vi)      Supplying minors with medications of any kind, including over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, without the written consent of the custodial parent(s) or guardian(s) is prohibited.

(vii)     When transporting minors by motor vehicle:

            (a)       Get written permission from parent or guardian where practicable.

            (b)       Drivers must be at least 21 years of age.

            (c)       If the minor is alone, bring another adult where practicable.

(viii)    Archdiocesan personnel are prohibited from speaking to minors in a way that is shaming, derogatory, demeaning, or humiliating.  In addition, Archdiocesan personnel will not use vulgarity in the presence of minors.

(ix)      Sexually-oriented conversations with minors are prohibited, except for human sexuality lessons and discussions when they are part of the approved curriculum or as part of normal counseling during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  These lessons or counseling sessions will conform to the Church’s teachings on the topic.

(x)       Discussing one’s own sexual orientation, preferences or activities with minors is prohibited.  Discussing celibacy in the context of the priestly or religious life is, however, appropriate.

(xi)      Being nude or dressed immodestly in the presence of minors is prohibited.

(xii)     Taking sexually-oriented or morally-inappropriate materials (magazines, cards, videos, films, website material, computer files, clothing, etc.) onto Church/school property or showing them to minors is prohibited.

(xiii)   Sleeping in the same rooms, beds, sleeping bags, or tents with minors is prohibited, unless they are members of one’s immediate family.  If emergency situations or other circumstances require that adults sleep in the same room or tents, there should be two or more adults present.

(xiv)    No minors, unaccompanied by one of their adult immediate family members, should stay overnight in any premises used as the residence of priests, deacons or religious, except for members of the family of the priest, deacon or religious.

 

            B.        Physical contact with minors

 

The Archdiocese desires to implement and maintain a positive, nurturing environment for our children and youth while preventing harm.  The following rules address conduct expected of Archdiocesan personnel, whether paid or volunteer, when dealing with minors who are not blood relations:

 

1.         Corporal punishment such as spanking, slapping, pinching, hitting, etc. is prohibited.

2.         Archdiocesan personnel may use reasonable physical contact when reasonably necessary to restrain, to defuse an altercation, to separate combatants, or in self-defense.

3.         Appropriate affection between Archdiocesan personnel and minors is often important for a child’s development and can be a positive part of Church life and ministry.  The following forms of affection are regarded as appropriate examples for most Church sponsored and affiliated programs:

·        Shoulder to shoulder hugs.

·        Pats on the shoulder or back.

·        Handshakes.

·        “High-fives” and hand slapping.

·        Verbal praise.

·        Holding hands while walking with small children.

·        Sitting beside small children.

·        Holding hands during prayer.

·        Pats on the head when culturally appropriate (for example, this gesture should typically be avoided in some Asian or Muslim communities).

4.         The following are examples of contact that are not to be used:

·        Inappropriate or lengthy hugs or embraces.

·        Kisses on the mouth.

·        Holding minors, above the approximate age of 5, on one’s lap. 

Note:  The holding of minors in one’s lap should only be done in the context of consoling an obviously distressed child.

·        Touching buttocks, genital areas, or a girl’s chest.

·        Showing physical displays of affection in isolated areas of the premises such as bedrooms, closets, staff only areas, or other private rooms.

·        Sleeping in bed with a minor.

·        Touching knees, thighs or legs of minors, as a show of affection.

·        Wrestling with minors, except for legitimate sports coaching, in which case another adult should be present.

·        Tickling minors.

·        Piggyback rides.

·        Any type of massage given by minor to adult.

·        Any type of massage given by adult to minor.

·        Any display of unwanted affection.

·        Actions that include compliments relating to sexual attractiveness or sexual development.

 

3.         Supervision of Programs That Involve Minors

The primary standard being implemented here is the presence of multiple adults (at least two) at all church-related programs and activities for minors.  This standard does not apply to the Sacrament of Reconciliation or to situations where an individual is seeking unscheduled and immediate pastoral care.  The goal of this standard is to lessen the chances of abuse occurring or going unnoticed.  In this light:

 

(a)       Programs or activities for minors, whether on or off church property, must always have at least two adults present.

(b)       Parents are encouraged to take an active interest in any and all services and programs in which their children are involved in the Archdiocese.

(c)       Personnel of the Archdiocese under the age of 21 must work under the direction of an adult supervisor who is at least 21 years of age.

(d)       Pastors, Principals, or their equivalent, must be aware of all programs for minors that are sponsored by a parish, school, or institution.

(e)       Pastors, Principals, or their equivalent, must approve new programs for minors before they begin.

(f)        Where multiple religious education classes, school classes or other group meetings are being conducted, at the same time and in the same building, the second adult need not be present in the classroom.  In this case, the second adult can be the other teacher/adult leader in the other classroom.

(g)       If there is a single class, or activity being conducted, a second adult must be present within the same building.

(h)       If personnel of the Archdiocese are working one-on-one with a minor, the door of the room must be left open, and a second adult must be present within the same building.

(i)        If a scheduled class or activity is the only session being conducted at a particular time, and a second adult is not present within the same building or one cannot readily be obtained to fulfill that role, the session will be cancelled and the parents/guardians notified to pick up the children.

(j)        The above rules apply also for all overnight camping, overnight retreats, overnight trips, or other scheduled and approved events of this nature.  In these cases, male and female minors will be segregated and adult chaperones will be segregated.  Under no circumstances will a lone minor stay by himself/herself in a room or tent.  Curfews will be imposed and bed checks will be performed by pairs of adult male and female chaperones, females checking females and males checking males.  There will always be two adult individuals doing the bed checks.

(k)       If adults must stay in the same facility, room or tent, then there must be multiple adults in the facility, room or tent who will sleep separately from any minors.

 

            4.         Guidelines for Ethical and Moral Behavior

 

                        A.        Archdiocesan Standards

 

1.         Personnel of the Archdiocese enjoy a level of trust and confidence.  It is essential that personnel of the Archdiocese view their own actions and intentions objectively to assure that no observer would have grounds to believe that irregularity in conduct exists.  All personnel of the Archdiocese have a responsibility to strive to uphold the standards of the Catholic Church in their day-to-day work and personal lives.  Therefore, personnel of the Archdiocese should not engage in conduct that is immoral or unethical, including, but not limited to:

 

a.         Formally rejecting the teachings of the Catholic Church or the Christian way of life.

b.         Exhibiting actions that are disruptive to ministry and public worship.

c.         Procuring or participating in abortion or euthanasia or counseling others to participate in such activities.

d.         Possessing pornographic materials.

e.         Engaging in adultery, flagrant promiscuity or illicit co-habitation.

f.          Abusing alcohol, drugs or gambling.

g.         Supplying alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs and/or tobacco products to minors.

h.         Misappropriating Church funds or assets.

i.          Engaging in any type of criminal conduct.

 

2.         Personnel of the Archdiocese should not harm the reputation of others through:

 

a.         Disclosing the faults or failings of others to persons who have no cause to know them.

b.         Making false allegations against another.

c.         Disclosing confidential information that could cause an individual to suffer embarrassment, humiliation, or public ridicule of any kind, except in cases of mandated reporting of child abuse or neglect.

 

                        B.        Unprofessional Behavior/Harassment:  Guidelines for Professionalism

 

            Unprofessional behavior/harassment is any conduct that does not conform to approved legal standards of social or professional behavior:

 

1.         Personnel of the Archdiocese will not engage in physical, psychological, written, or verbal harassment of others and will not tolerate such behavior by anyone.

2.         Personnel of the Archdiocese will provide a professional work environment that is free from physical, psychological, written, or verbal intimidation or harassment.

3.         Personnel of the Archdiocese are expected to refrain from acting in an unprofessional/harassing manner which includes, but is not limited to:

·        Physical or emotional abuse.

·        Racial insults.

·        Derogatory ethnic slurs.

·        Sexual advances or touching.

·        Sexual comments or sexual jokes.

·        Requests for sexual favors.

·        Display of offensive materials.

·        Abuse of power.

4.         Unprofessional behavior/harassment can be a single incident or a persistent pattern of behavior where the purpose or effect is to create a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment.

5.         Allegations of harassment should be taken seriously and reported immediately to the appropriate person in the parish, organization or Archdiocese.

 

                        C.        Exploitation:  Guidelines for Counseling Relationships[1]

 

            Exploitation in the context of this counseling policy refers to personnel of the Archdiocese taking unfair advantage of the counseling relationship for the benefit of the counselor.  Sexual exploitation is sexual activity between personnel of the Archdiocese and the recipient of his or her counseling services, regardless of who initiated the activity.

 

1.         Clergy, parish coordinators, pastoral associates, and members of religious orders providing pastoral counseling are generally not licensed as professional counselors and are expected to limit their counseling to spiritual, religious, moral or pastoral matters.

2.         Personnel of the Archdiocese shall not step beyond their competence in counseling situations and shall refer matters to other professionals when appropriate.

3.         Counselors should avoid situations and conduct that are exploitive or are likely to give the appearance of exploitation.

4.         Counselors should avoid counseling situations and conduct that further their own personal, religious, political, or business interests.

5.         If a conflict of interest exists or arises, personnel of the Archdiocese should inform all parties.  Resolution of the issues must protect the person being counseled.

6.         Counselors must never engage in sexual intimacies or activities with the people they counsel.  This includes nonconsensual and consensual contact, forced and unforced physical contact and sexually explicit conversations not related to counseling issues.

7.         Counselors shall not engage in sexual intimacies or activities with relatives, friends, or other individuals who are close to the client, when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client.  Personnel of the Archdiocese should presume that a potential exploitation or harm exists in such intimate relationships or activities.

8.         Counselors are fully responsible for setting and maintaining clear, appropriate boundaries in all counseling and counseling-related relationships.

9.         Any physical contact should be respectful and consistent with the intent to provide a safe and comfortable counseling environment.

10.       Sessions should be conducted in appropriate settings at appropriate times and should not be held at places or times that would tend to cause confusion about the nature of the relationship for the person being counseled.  For example, regular counseling sessions with minors should be scheduled when there is another adult readily available in the building.  No sessions should be conducted in a bedroom or private living quarters.

 

                        D.        Duty to Report Sexual Misconduct and/or Neglect Involving Minors

 

Allegations and/or incidences of suspected child abuse or neglect involving minors should be taken seriously and reported to civil authorities and, if appropriate, Church authorities, pursuant to the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stats. §17a-101 et seq. and the Archdiocese’s Policies and Procedures Relating to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Involving Minors.

 

IV.       Confidentiality

 

1.         Information disclosed to personnel of the Archdiocese during the course of counseling, or other one-on-one interrelationships, shall be held in the strictest confidence possible.  Disclosure will be made as permitted by canon and civil law and only as follows:

 

(a)       If the counselor or other personnel of the Archdiocese engaged in a one-on-one interrelationship with a minor has a good faith belief that there is a risk of imminent danger to the client or to others, that person is to disclose the information necessary to protect the parties involved and to prevent harm.

(b)       Before disclosure is made, if feasible and appropriate, the Counselor will inform the person being counseled about the disclosure and the potential consequences.

(c)       If the Counselor has reasonable cause to suspect or believe the existence of child abuse or neglect, the Counselor must cause a report to be made to public authorities in accordance with civil law and in keeping with the Archdiocese’s Policies and Procedures Relating to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Involving Minors, which should be consulted.

 

2.         If a Counselor discovers, while counseling a minor, that there is a serious threat to the welfare of the minor and that communication of confidential information to a parent or legal guardian is essential to the child’s health and well-being, the counselor will disclose only the information necessary to protect the health and well-being of the minor.

 

3.         Counselors should discuss the nature of confidentiality and its limitations with each person in counseling.

 

4.         Any priest who hears the confession of someone who reveals information about past or present abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult shall strongly urge the penitent to report the abuse to the proper civil and Church authorities.  However, in accordance with the norm of canon law (c.983), the sacramental seal of confession is inviolable; therefore, it is forbidden for a confessor to betray the confidence of a penitent.  This is applicable whether the penitent is living or dead.

 

5.         Information about abuse or neglect of a minor is sometimes revealed during private spiritual direction.  In the event that a victim of abuse or neglect reveals to a spiritual director providing private spiritual direction that he/she was abused or neglected as a minor, the spiritual director will strongly urge that person to make a report to the proper civil authorities and, if the abuse or neglect was committed by personnel of the Archdiocese, to make a report also to Church authorities or to permit the spiritual director to make such report(s).  If during spiritual direction someone other than a victim reveals information about abuse or neglect of a minor, the spiritual director will strongly urge that person to make a report to the proper civil authorities and, if appropriate, also to Church authorities or to permit the spiritual director to make such report(s).  In these instances, if the spiritual director is a mandated reporter under Connecticut law, he or she will report to the proper civil authorities and inform the person that he/she will do so.

 

6.         In teaching, delivering homilies, and other public presentations, personnel of the Archdiocese will not refer to specific situations, even anonymously, regarding information learned in counseling.

 

 

 

V.        Conflicts of Interest

 

A conflict of interest exists when personnel of the Archdiocese take advantage of relationships in order to further their own personal, religious, political, or business interests.

 

1.         Personnel of the Archdiocese should avoid all situations which are likely to result in a conflict of interest.  Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can call integrity and professional conduct into question.

2.         If a conflict of interest exists or arises, personnel of the Archdiocese should inform all parties.

3.         Personnel of the Archdiocese must establish clear, appropriate boundaries with anyone with whom they have a business, professional, or social relationship (e.g., parishioners, vendors, prospective employees, etc.)

 

VI.       Reporting Ethical or Professional Misconduct

 

            Personnel of the Archdiocese must hold each other accountable for maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards in the context of working with or ministering to minors.  When there is an indication of illegal actions by personnel of the Archdiocese, you should notify the proper civil authorities immediately and also notify an appropriate Archdiocesan representative.  When it appears that personnel of the Archdiocese has violated this Code, or other religious, moral or ethical principles, you should report the issue to a supervisor or next higher authority or refer the matter directly to the Chancery office for the Archdiocese.  Where uncertainty exists as to whether a situation or course of conduct violates this Code or other religious, moral or ethical principles, you should consult with peers and/or others knowledgeable about ethical issues and/or the Chancery office of the Archdiocese.

 

VII.     Well-Being of Archdiocesan Personnel

 

            Personnel of the Archdiocese have a responsibility to look out for and try to maintain their own good spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health.  They should be aware of warning signs that indicate potential problems with their own spiritual, physical, mental and/or emotional health and should seek help whenever they notice such signs.

 

APPROVED:  

 

Most Reverend Daniel A. Cronin 

Archbishop of Hartford
July 31, 2003

 

  #167783

Click here to see Acknowledgement of Receipt, Review and Understanding


[1] “Counseling relationships” include pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, and other forms of counseling provided by competent professionals through Church affiliated organizations and services.