KCBC GUIDELINES : Safe Environment Programme for Church Personnel ::Syro Malabar News Updates KCBC GUIDELINES : Safe Environment Programme for Church Personnel

for Safe Environment Programme
for Church Personnel connected with institutions
where minors or vulnerable adults are given particular care
In the light of the recommendation of the C.B.C.I. requiring
every diocese to establish a Guideline for Church Personnel
connected with Institutions where minors are given particular
care, so as to ensure a safe environment in the Church, the
KCBC proposes the following Guidelines for Church Personnel
connected with Institutions where minors or vulnerable adults
are given particular care.
1. Our Catholic presbyteries, churches, educational
institutions, religious institutions, houses of special care
and Catholic organizations should be places where all feel
2. Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and
vulnerable adults are heinous crimes and grave sins.
3. This Guidelines is a part of our endeavor to put in place a
safe environment program in the catholic faith communities
in Kerala.
4. It is based on the basic Christian values and morals and the
“Procedural Norms for Dealing with Cases involving Sexual
Abuse of Minors” issued by the CBCI on 1st October, 2015
and also hearing in mind the provisions of the Protection
of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, of
5. The purpose of this Guidelines are:
a) Provide a secure and safe environment for minors and
vulnerable adults in the faith communities within our
b) Protect them from any form of sexual exploitation and
sexual abuse;
c) Emphasize the need for reporting any incident of sexual
assault or harassment to the church authorities as well as
to the civil authorities;
d) Address the spiritual, physical and emotional case of the
victim, its family and the affected community;
e) Address the possibility of false accusations against
clergy, employees and volunteers.
6. This Guidelines manifests the commitment of the KCBC:
a) To show zero tolerance towards sexual assault or
harassment of minors and vulnerable adults;
b) To address the critical component of prevention;
c) To take necessary ecclesiastical disciplinary action
against the offenders;
d) To ensure reporting of sexual offences against minors or
vulnerable adults to civil authorities as required by law.
e) To respond to victims of sexual offences with care and
f) To constitute an appropriate mechanism with necessary
infrastructure and time bound procedures to deal with
cases of sexual offences.
1. Meaning of words and expressions used in this guidelines.
a) ‘Minor’ means a person below the age of 18 years. A
person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be
included as minors.
b) ‘Vulnerable adult’ means any adult who is physically,
mentally or emotionally impaired, whether temporary or
long-term, or is otherwise unable to function as a typical
adult is expected to function.
c) ‘Church Personnel’ means Clerics, Lay employees and
volunteers, Men and Women Religious and Seminarians.
d) Sexual offence or sexual abuse or sexual misconduct
means any form of sexual assault or sexual harassment as
defined in the POCSO Act, 2012.
e) ‘Safe Environment Director’ means the individual
appointed by the Diocese/Eparchy/Bishop/Superior/
Head of the Institution to implement the safe environment
program in the diocese/lnstitution. He/she is responsible
for ensuring adherence to the requirements under this
f) ‘Safe Environment Committee’ means the committee
appointed by the Diocese/Eparchy/Bishop/Head of the
institution to assist the Safe Environment Director.
Periodical Safe Environment Training may be given to the clergy,
staff and volunteers in the diocese.The Safe Environment Director
and the Safe Environment Committee shall be responsible for
this. A copy of this Guideline shall be given to each trainee.
1. Church Personnel shall abide by and adhere to all
applicable Civil Laws, the Canon Law, The norms of
the motuproprio"Sacramentorumsanctitatistutela” (if
clerics),professional code of conduct and ethical norms
so as to prevent and deal with cases of sexual assault or
harassment of minors and vulnerable adults.
2. Church Personnel shall seek to provide a safe environment
to the minors and the vulnerable adults an environment
which is just, non-discriminatory, free from all forms of
sexual abuse or exploitation and ensuring their dignity and
personal safety.
3. Church Personnel shall refrain from viewing and exhibiting
any sexually explicit or morally in-appropriate material
in the presence of minors and vulnerable adults. Such
materials include magazines, photos, videos, web chat,
films, recordings, computer software, computer/video
games or printed materials.
4. Church Personnel shall not indulge in or encourage sexually
offensive humor and conversation in the presence of
minors and vulnerable adults.
5. Church Personnel shall not engage in physical, mental,
psychological, written or verbal harassment of staff,
volunteers or parishioners and shall not tolerate such
harassment by other Church Personnel.
Harassment encompasses a broad range of behavior
including, but not limited to, the following:
a) Physical or mental abuse
b) Unwelcome sexual advances or touching
c) Sexual comments or sexual jokes
d) Requesting for sexual favors as a condition for
employment, promotion, service benefits, compensation
6. Professionalism requires that adults maintain clear
boundaries in their relationship with the minors and
vulnerable adults they are serving. For example:
a) Excessive familiarity or intimacy between adults and
minors is not permitted
b) Adults should not relate to minors, as if they are peers
or friends
c) Adults may not give such undue attention or favorable
treatment to a minor or group of minors which will indicate
a special relationship or a favorite status.
7. In the matter of physical contact between adults and
minors, a high degree of caution must be applied. Physical
contact must be very strictly limited. Adults should ensure
that there is no inappropriate physical contact with minors.
Physical contact must be entirely non-sexual and incapable
of being misconstrued by the minor or others.
8. When working with minors/vulnerable adults, Church
Personnel shall ensure that:
a) No minor shall reside in any church rectory or other
living quarters of priests, unless the minor is accompanied
by parent or an adult entrusted by the parent.
b) The minor is not alone with the church personnel in a
residence, sleeping facility, locker room, rest room, dressing
facility or other closed room or in an isolated area.
c) There is no physical disciplining of a minor. Corporal
punishment is never acceptable. Disciplinary problems
must be handled in co-ordination with the parents of the
d) Overnight trips alone with a minor should be avoided.
e) Do not take photographs of the minors when they are
unclothed or are dressing.
9. If a Church Personnel observes that a minor is being abused
by anyone (adult or minor), he shall take appropriate steps
to intervene and to provide a safe environment to the
10. If a Church Personnel is accused of engaging in inappropriate
conduct, the one who knows about it (victim, his/her
parents or any other responsible person) shall immediately
notify the Diocese/Eparchy and the Safe Environment
11. While organizing events involving minors and vulnerable
adults, adequate number of screened and trained adults
shall be present for supervision.
12. Facilities for girls and boys shall be monitored during church
services and all school and other activities.
13. Children shall not be released to strangers unless the parent
or guardian requests in writing.
14. Only qualified drivers who satisfy all legal requirements
to drive the vehicle and who do not have any criminal
background may be engaged to drive any church/school
vehicle or other vehicles chartered, rented or leased by the
church/school/other institution.
15. Church Personnel shall bear in mind and comply with the
provisions in the POCSO Act regarding reporting of sexual
a) Church personnel are bound to report cases of sexual
offences to the authorities concerned and also to cooperate
with the investigation by civil authorities.
b) Individuals with the knowledge of commission of sexual
offences against minors and vulnerable adults shall report
the case to the Safe Environment Director and also the civil
authorities as required by law.
16. “The Procedural Norms for dealing with cases involving
Sexual Abuse of Minors” promulgated by the CBCI on 1st
October, 2015 shall be followed by the dioceses/eparchies
in the matter of reporting of and dealing with cases involving
sexual offences against minors and vulnerable adults.
Keeping in mind the norms of Canon Law, the documents
from the Holy See, the Civil Law prevalent in India, and after
consulting the Conference of Religious in India, the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of India promulgates for India the following
Procedural Norms for dealing with cases of priests and religious,
accused of sexual abuse of minors.
1. The Norms given by the Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela
of April 30, 2001, revised on May 21, 2010, other Roman
Documents as also the provisions of those continued in the
Codes of Canon law are to be strictly observed.
2. A case is initiated when a formal complaint is field and
addressed to the Diocesan Bishop or the Religious Major
Superior. While the right to send the complaint directly
to the Superior is always intact, the Superior may create
a special office to receive such complaints or entrust the
responsibility to an office in the Curia.
a) The complaint alleging a case of sexual abuse should
clearly state the name and address of the victim, together
with the name and address of the alleged offender. It should
be dated, state the date of the offence and the age of the
victim, (with, if possible his/her date of birth) at the time of
the offence. It should carry a brief account of the offence,
its frequency and needs to be signed by the petitioner.
b) If the complaint is made by a third party, it should
be made by someone who has locus standi: i.e. parent,
guardian, family member or legal delegate. If the petition
is signed by someone else besides the above, this party
should obtain an authorization from the victim or from a
legal representative of the victim.
3. a) TheBishop/Majorsuperior,afterreceivingthecomplaint,
forwards it to the Preliminary Enquiry Committee. If the
details as listed in Article 2 are not included in the complaint,
the party is asked to fill in these details and resend the
compliant. If necessary, the Bishop/Major Superior may
appoint a priest/religious to assist the victim to make the
b) A Minor, according to these Norms, is one who has
not yet completed 18 years of age. It is to be noted that
Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (Article 6) includes as
gravioradelicta sexual abuse by a cleric of one who is
over the age of eighteen but habitually lacks the use of
reason. Cases can be taken up to twenty years after the
alleged victim has reached the age of 18. However, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has the right to
derogate from prescription in individual cases. Besides,
Article 6 § 2 of the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis
Tutela has included as gravioradelicta cases dealing with
the acquisition or distribution of pornographic images of
minors under the age of fourteen by a cleric.
4. This Preliminary Enquiry Committee consists of three
persons: In a diocese: the Judicial Vicar/Chancellor/
Curia Official; a Senior Priest and another member, lay
or religious, male or female. For a Religious Institute: A
member of the Provincial Team; and two others appointed
by the Major Superior in consultation with his/her Council.
In case the victim is a female, a Religious Sister should be
part of this Committee. The Members of this Committee
are appointed by the Diocesan Bishop/Major Superior.
5. This Committee will examine if there is at least a semblance
of truth in the allegation based on the following:
a) the complaint itself
b) an interview with the petitioner and the alleged offender
c) an interview with one or two significant witnesses, if
considered necessary
d) other evidence, even documentary
6. The Committee will present its Report and conclusions to
the Bishop/Major Superior within thirty days of its formally
receiving the complaint with all the elements required by
Article 2.
7. a) If the Bishop/Major Superior accepts that there seems
to be truth in the allegations, he refers the matter to the
Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith for advice, sending
them the entire dossier of the case: the Complaint, the Act
of the preliminary Enquiry, the Report and Conclusions of
the Preliminary Enquiry Committee and his own opinion.
b) Pending the final result of the Enquiry, the alleged
offender is to be given administrative leave. It is to be
carefully safe-guarded that the alleged offender does
not have any contact with the victim during this period.
He is to go to the place assigned to him by the Bishop/
Major Superior. He is entitled to his congrua/maintenance
allowance during this period, provided he goes to the place
to which he is sent.
c) In the meantime a delegate of the Bishop/Major
Superior is appointed to keep in contact with the victim and
the family of the victim, and to supervise the proceedings.
It is strongly recommended that counseling/therapy be
arranged for the victim and the family. Besides, the victim
is to be assisted to protect his/he procedural rights.
8. a) Any specific directives given by the Congregation for
the Doctrine of Faith to the Bishop/Major Superior on
how to proceed in the particular case, are to be carefully
b) The results of any penal process are to be sent to the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will
either confirm or modify the decision of the Ordinary /
Major Superior.
9. a) In the case where the Congregation has directed
the Bishop/Major Superior to proceed with a further
examination of the case, the case is entrusted to a special
Sexual offences Committee. The Committee comprises
three persons, at least one of whom shall have expert
knowledge of Canon law. The responsibility of the sexual
Offences committee is to investigate the case and advise
the Bishop/Major Superior whose responsibility it is to
take a decision in consultation with the Holy See. The
detailed procedure given below is to guide the Committee
in its operations and does not indicate that it has a judicial
role. The Norms for Procedure as given in the Codes of
Canon Law are to be observed. In cases of a special nature,
the Bishop/Major Superior may appoint a Committee
comprising five persons.
b) If the Congregation forthe Doctrine of the Faith instructs
the Ordinary to undertake a penal process, the carrying
out of the said process would be outside the scope of the
Sexual Offences Committee.
c) The members of the Sexual offences Committee will
have a three year term and are appointed by the Diocesan
Bishop/Major Superior.
10. In cases where the victim is a girl, this committee should
comprise of at least two women among whom should be,
where possible, a member of a Government recognized
NGO. A senior Priest should be part of this committee. If
necessary, and ad hoc Commission could be appointed for
a case where the victim is a girl.
11. The Sexual Offences Committee is to proceed in its
investigation as follows:
a) The complainant and the alleged offender are to be
heard. The alleged offender has the right to know the
accusation, the conclusions of the Preliminary Enquiry
Committee and the Directives of the Holy See.
b) Witnesses presented by both parties are to be heard.
The Chairperson could examine the progress of the case
and decide to curtail the list of witnesses, if he/she feels
satisfied that the case has been sufficiently instructed
c) The Committee may call witnesses ex-officio,
d) Documentary evidence: letters, emails, audio-video
recordings, photographs, may be also be called for and
e) If necessary, the opinion of experts may be obtained.
f) All acts are to be notarized.
12. a) Thefinal Report and Conclusions of the Sexual Offences
Committee should be submitted to the Bishop/Major
Superiors within ninety days of the dossier being handed
to them. For special reasons the Committee may request
an extension of this period from the appointing authority.
b) The Conclusions of this committee are to be
communicated to the petitioner and alleged offender by
a Bishop/Major Superior with the clear understanding
that this is an ecclesiastical process and its conclusions
are not binding in Civil Law. The Bishop is free to take all
precautionary measures in accordance to Canon 1722
Codex Luris Canonici and article 19 of the above Motu
Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.
13. If the Bishop/Major Superior after studying the results
of the investigation by the Sexual Offences Committee
concludes that the alleged offender is guilty and constitutes
a risk for minors, the offender is to be immediately
relieved of all offices he had been holding and it should be
examined whether he needs to be advised to request to be
reduced to the lay state; he had the option of asking the
Holy Father to dispense him from all obligation connected
with the clerical state, including celibacy; else a procedure
may be initiated for his dismissal from the clerical state.
Penal remedies may also be imposed. It is to be kept in
mind that the authorization of a penal process falls within
the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith. Reassignment to ministry or transfer to another
diocese is excluded, if the cleric poses a risk to minors and
to the community.
14. Depending on the Conclusions/Recommendations of the /
sexual Offences Committee, the following assistance is to
be given to the victim.
a) Great care should be taken to protect the reputation of
the victim.
b) The victim is given counseling at the expense of the
c) If this counseling/therapy needs facilities such as
residence during the duration of the counseling, these are
arranged by the Diocese/Religious Institute.
d) If necessary the family is also asked to meet the
e) A delegate of the Bishop/Major Superior is assigned
to keep in regular contact with the victim and the victim’s
15. If either the victim or the alleged offender is not satisfied
with the Conclusions of the /Sexual Offences Committee,
he can appeal to the National Review board. However the
penalty imposed according to Article 13 is not suspended
pending the decision of the National Review Board. The
decision of the National Review Board is binding on both,
the Petitioner and the alleged Offender. Appeal is possible
only to the Holy See.
16. The National Review board comprises three bishops
appointed by the CBCI Standing Committee. Till such time
that this is done, an ad-hoc committee comprising the
two CBCI Vice Presidents and the Secretary General will
fulfil its functions. The National Review Board, which can
obtain the assistance of experts, will take up all cases of
appeal against decisions of the Sexual Offences Committee
and also examine appeals for the lifting of any penalties
imposed. This latter cannot be reviewed for a period of
three years from the imposition of the penalty.
17. If the matter is also being examined by the civil authorities,
the Bishop/Major Superior is to be give them full
cooperation to assist in their investigations,
18. The Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith is to be kept
informed of the developments in the case.
19. During the enquiry, all attempts are to be made to protect
the good name of the alleged offender. Even though this is
a very grave allegation the principle that every accused is
innocent until proved guilty has to be kept in mind. Hence,
in order to prevent any miscarriage of justice, and to
protect the good name of the parties, both the preliminary
enquiry and the subsequent processes, are to be conducted
respecting the privacy of the individuals concerned.
20. In case the cleric is wrongly accused, provision should be
made for his rehabilitation.
Provisions in the POCSO Act
Regarding Reporting of Sexual Offences
a) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973, any person (including child), who has
apprehension that an offence under this act is likely to be
committed or has knowledge that such an offence has been
committed, he shall provide such information to a) the special
Juvenile Police Unit, b) the local police (19.(1) POCSO Act,
b) Any person, who fails to report the commission of an offence
under subsection (i) of section 19 or section 20 or who fails
to record such offence under subsection (2) of 19 shall be
punished with imprisonment of either description which
may extend to six months or with fine or with both. (21(1),
POCSO Act, 2012).
c) Any person, being in-charge of any company or an institution
(by whatever name called) who fails to report the commission
of an offence under sub-section (1) of 19 in respect of a
subordinate under his control, shall be punished with
imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and
with fine (21(2) POCSO Act, 2012).
d) No person shall incur any liability, whether civil or criminal,
for giving the information in good faith for the purpose of
sub-section(l)of section 19(19(7), POCSO Act, 2012).
e) Any person, who makes false complaint or provides false
information against any person, in respect of any offence
committed under sections 3,4,5,7, and section 9, solely with
the intention to humiliate, extort or threaten or defame him,
shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may
extend to six months or with fine or with both (22(1) POCSO
Act, 2012).

Source: KCBC


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