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General Guidelines on Sexual Abuse (Brs)

Rome, March 27, 2013
Dies Natalis of the Good Father

To all the brothers of the Congregation

Presentation of the General Guidelines on Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Persons

Dear Brothers,

I am writing this letter to accompany the document that I have just promulgated with the consent of my council: “General Guidelines of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (Brothers) on Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Persons.”

This document is normative for the whole Congregation. It is based in the keener awareness that has arisen in the Church as a consequence of the painful cases of sexual abuse that have come to light in recent years and is intended as a way of implementing one of the orientations of the Thirty-eighth General Chapter, “we are called, in the midst of God’s people, to accept loyally the necessary control systems that come with our work and our responsibilities.” (Mission, 29)

The Guidelines document speaks for itself. However, I would like to underscore a few things:

  • Even though the Guidelines treat specifically of sexual abuse, they must be understood in the wider context of our commitment to respect the dignity and integrity of every human being, who must be honored and protected as a son or daughter of God.
  • They address the sexual abuse of minors, those under 18 years of age and also of the sexual abuse of vulnerable persons (even though they are adult). It would be good to take some time with the definition of “vulnerable person” (2.2), which could apply in situations such as spiritual direction, initial formation, pastoral care and the like.
  • These Guidelines are not a confidential document. On the contrary, they are an expression of the public commitment of the Congregation and it would be good that they be known in the places where we are present. The document will be available on the webpage and is available to all who desire.

I will end this brief presentation speaking specifically the major superiors, that they assure the following:

  1. The development of specific guidelines for their respective countries, if civil law or the orientations of the local Church recommend such. The guidelines of each administrative unit of the Congregation should be sent to the General Secretary.
  2. The organization of a program of study for all the brothers in which they present the “General Guidelines of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (Brothers) on Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Persons” and there be an opportunity to dialogue about them.
  3. The implementation of everything asked explicitly of the major superiors in this document, for example, having people prepared to be instructors of cases who can present them and with whom brothers who might be accused can consult; the inclusion of this topic in plans of initial and ongoing formation etc.

I thank everyone for your interest and collaboration on this topic that is so important. Let us ask the Lord that he make us worthy collaborators in his reparative mission and he free us from the evil of doing damage to the littlest ones. 

Fraternally in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Javier Álvarez-Ossorio SSCC
Superior General


Appendix: General Guidelines on Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Persons