THE UNITED CATHOLIC CHURCH
Ecumenical, Inclusive, Non-Judgmental, and Independent;
An Old Catholic Heritage Church for the Church's Homeless
Policy on Pedophiles and Other Sexual Exploiters
Adopted 27 June 2002
There are two essential parts to our policy toward pedophiles and other sexual exploiters in the clergy. The first has to do with keeping them out. The second has to do with our actions should one ever infiltrate our ranks. Both parts of our policy are designed to protect the people we serve.
Part I: Prevention
We recruit our clergy, both men and women, from those who have developed a mature, healthy understanding of sexuality, especially their own. This enlarges the pool of potential priests, bishops, and deacons. We welcome into the ranks of our clergy those who are married or who plan to marry. We welcome those of either sexual orientation who are comfortable with who they are and are willing to enter into lifelong monogamous relationships with another human being. We also welcome those who feel a real call to a celibate life -- not as an escape from reality, nor as the necessary price for pursuing their ministry, but as a true call from God.
We reject the notion that homosexuals are more prone to pedophilia than heterosexuals. The truth is that pedophilia is most likely to appear among those, of either sexual orientation, whose sexuality has been repressed. We work hard to exclude such from our clergy. We try hard to avoid closeted gays. An essential part of this is assuring gay candidates for ordination that the closet is both unnecessary and counterproductive. We will not only accept them for who they are, but will accept their committed monogamous relationship as well. What we reject, from either homosexual or heterosexual, is promiscuity, predatory sexual advances, and pedophilia.
We are unlikely to attract pedophiles, because we avoid the ranks of the sexually immature from which they tend to spring. But we do more than that. We actively screen candidates for ordination to make sure they have a healthy attitude toward sex, whatever their gender or sexual orientation. The primary responsibility for this lies with the ordaining bishop. But the Church as a whole is available to assist in discerning the suitability of candidates for ministry. Protecting our people from predators must be among our highest priorities.
Still, the question arises, "What if one slips through? What do we do?" The answer to that is that we respond in a way that protects the innocents first. We endorse the recommendations of Call To Action and have adopted those which apply to us.
Part II: Response
It is essential that our people know of all instances of accusations of sexual improprieties, of the disposition of all complaints, of the financial cost of any settlements, and of the specifics of medical treatment of any offenders. Most importantly, they must know of any clergy who have ever abused a minor and are still in active ministry.
As of this date, there has never been an accusation against any member of the clergy of the United Catholic Church. If there ever is, the people will be told. There will never be any "confidentiality agreements" between this Church and victims of abuse.
Allegations of sexual abuse of a minor will be reported promptly to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, whether or not this is mandated by state law. Each diocese or local church will provide support for victims in contacting law enforcement authorities and ensure anonymity for the victim when they do come forward.
Whenever an allegation of sexual abuse is made, the clergy accused should be removed immediately from active ministry pending the outcome of the investigation.
Whenever a member of the clergy is found guilty of a felony or pleads guilty to a misdemeanor in a case where sufficient evidence existed to prove a felony, he should be removed permanently from active ministry, be divested of authority to perform priestly duties, and be subject to a canonical process for returning him to the lay state.
In cases of sexual abuse of a minor adjudicated by the criminal justice system to be a misdemeanor, the same actions should be taken. In this case, however, after the offender has served his sentence and undergone appropriate therapy, he can petition to be reinstated. The recommendation of an independent lay-dominated review board would be required. The expenses of the board would be met by the applicant. Reinstatement should be rare, and done with the full knowledge and agreement of the community.
(Approved unanimously by the college of bishops and the clergy members of the United Catholic Church in Synod on the 27th day of June, 2002, at the Spirit in the Desert Lutheran Center in Carefree, Arizona.)