Safe Environment for All

Protecting God’s Children

An essential part of the mission of the Church is the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of all people. Christian principles dictate that we have a special concern for those who are most vulnerable and those who cannot fully care for themselves.
The increase in recent years in reported cases of sexual and physical misconduct points to a problem that is widespread in our society. The lasting impact of incidents of this nature on both victims and accused is a profound tragedy. The problem of unethical sexual or physical conduct, a form of exploitation, is one that compromises the integrity of the Church’s ministers and volunteers and adversely affects the image and effectiveness of the entire Church. People place in their Church leaders a trust that must never be violated by any person employed by or volunteering services to the Church.

With a firm determination to promote and honor that trust, the Diocese of Buffalo renews its resolve to provide safety and protection for children and young people in Church ministries and institutions. Please refer to our Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults for more details.

FAQs

  • Protecting God’s Children is training conducted by VIRTUS, certified facilitators on the prevention of child sexual abuse. The training makes participants aware of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which offenders commit abuse, and five easy steps one can use to prevent child sexual abuse. The facilitators incorporate policies and procedures into the training defining child sexual abuse, addressing the reporting of child sexual abuse, the screening and selection of employees and volunteers, and victim advocacy. Children who participate in religious education, Catholic schools and youth activities receive training through Empowering God’s Children, giving children and young people the tools they need to protect themselves from those who might harm them
  • The Protecting God’s Children program is managed by the Office of Safe Environment, and requires all lay, religious, clerical and volunteers of the Diocese who work with or near minors and/or vulnerable adults to comply with the following policy requirements:
    • Attend a Protecting God’s Children workshop (VIRTUS) and complete monthly training bulletins.
    • Read and sign the diocese’s Code of Conduct.
    • Complete a criminal background check and two reference checks (Review national database quarterly). If criminal record turns up, it is reported to the pastor/parish administrator.

All adults who learns of an allegation of or suspects sexual abuse of a child or vulnerable adult must report that allegation or suspicion to the appropriate civil law enforcement and the Victim Assistance Coordinator (716-895-3010)

  • To report current abuse of a minor by a member of clergy, religious, an employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Buffalo or one of its parishes, schools or institutions call law enforcement, 911, and/or your county’s District Attorney. After you have reported to the authorities, please contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator (VAC) to report sexual abuse/misconduct from the present or past (716-895-3010,jacqueline.joy@ccwny.org). To confidentially report child abuse/adult sexual misconduct through a independent, third-party company contact EthicsPoint. All reports will be taken seriously, promptly investigated, and when requested, anonymity is provided.
  • Contact your local District Attorney: 
    • Allegany: 585-268-9225 | Website 
    • Cattaraugus:  716-938-2220 | Website
    • Chautauqua: 716-753-4241 | Spanish: 716-581-3540 | Website
    • Erie: 716-858-2400 | Website
    • Niagara: 716-286-4518 | Website
  • Lay, religious, volunteers and clerics of the Diocese and its parishes, schools, and other institutions, and such other personnel as temporarily assigned or international priests are required to attend educational programs or other training programs on methods of recognizing, reporting, and preventing sexual misconduct involving children or others. Children who participate in religious education, Catholic Schools and youth activities are also required to receive awareness training. 
  • The Review Board membership is composed of majority of laypersons who are not employed by the Diocese of Buffalo and at least one member has particular expertise in the treatment of sexual abuse of a child. One member on the Review Board must be a priest who is experienced and respected pastor in the diocese. Each member is appointed by the Bishop for a term of five years, which can be renewed at the sole discretion of the Bishop. The Board chair is held by a layperson who is not an employee of the diocese.

Code of Conduct

For the Diocesan Code of Conduct documentation that all adults within the Diocese who work with young people or vulnerable adults must sign.

Policy and Procedure for the Protection of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults

An essential part of the mission of the Church is the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of all people. Christian principles dictate that we have a special concern for those who are most vulnerable and those who cannot fully care for themselves.

Independent Review Board

The Independent Review Board advises the Bishop of Buffalo in his assessment of allegations of child or vulnerable adult sexual abuse.

Abuse Response

The Diocese of Buffalo is committed to bring healing to victim-survivors and strengthen the faith of the people of Western New York.

Additional Resources

A USCCB resource page for diocesan staff, clergy, and parishes. They also recently released a Child Abuse Prevention Month Resource Packet.

File a Complaint About a Bishop

Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service is an independent third-party reporting system established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to report sexual misconduct by a bishop or eparch. Anyone who wishes to file a complaint against a bishop of sexual abuse or other related misconduct can make a report at:

Reach out to the Office of Safe Environment

Report Abuse/Misconduct

Report abuse by a member of clergy, an employee or volunteer please contact the civil authorities, Victims Assistance Coordinator, and/or EthicsPoint.