Wednesday, May 27, 2015

UNIONE DELL’APOSTOLATO CATTOLICO
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti, 204 – 00186 Roma, Italia
Tel. (+39 06.6819469 – Fax:: (+39) 06.6876827 – E-mail: uac@uniopal.org
____________________________
Rome,
May 1st, 2015

Re. Child Protection Policy and Procedures Document for all members and
collaborators of the entire Union of Catholic Apostolate.

   Dear members of NCCs and of the GCC, and Major Superiors in Core Communities and leaders in other Communities of the Union. Greetings from Rome. The Union of Catholic Apostolate is growing and developing and striving to be ever more faithful to the charism entrusted to it through St. Vincent Pallotti. As members and collaborators of the Union we are part of the missionary Church of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has stated clearly that “Evangelization is the task of the Church” and “the Church is first and foremost a people advancing on its pilgrim way towards God” (EG 111). Our internal life as a Pallottine family and our engagement in evangelization brings us into contact with persons of all ages, and a fundamental principle for us is that we recognize the rights of all people to be treated equally and with dignity. The safeguarding of children from all forms of exploitation and abuse is a key issue in the life and mission of the Church in our times. In May 2011 Pope Benedict XVI, through a Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, instructed all Episcopal Conferences to draw up guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. Pope Francis has emphatically endorsed this and has demonstrated a clear commitment to the eradication of sexual abuse of minors in the Church. In a letter dated 2nd February 2015, Pope Francis affirmed that “Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home.”
  
   In January 2012, the III Ordinary General Assembly of the Union “in the strongest possible terms call[ed] on all members, collaborators and communities of the Union to ensure that the highest standards are implemented and respected with regard to safeguarding children”.   In January 2015, the IV Ordinary General Assembly discussed, Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti, 204 Tel (+39) 6819469 - Fax (+39) 06 6876827 00186 Roma, Italia Email: uac@uniopal.org modified and approved a Policy Document for the safeguarding of children. Compliance with the principles of this document and with the practices and procedures outlined in it is mandatory for all members and collaborators of the Union without prejudice to the autonomy of the Communities of the Union. 

   With this letter you are asked to study the document and take the indicated steps to ensure compliance with it. We kindly ask you to acknowledge receipt of this correspondence and please do not hesitate to contact the General Secretariat if there is anything about which you are unsure. 

   Our hope and prayer for all members and collaborators of the Union is that expressed by Pope Francis for the leaders of the Church so strikingly at the end of the abovementioned letter: “May the Lord Jesus instil in each of us [...] the same love and affection for the little ones which characterized his own presence among us, and which in turn enjoins on us a particular responsibility for the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of tenderness and mercy, help us to carry out, generously and thoroughly, our duty to humbly acknowledge and repair past injustices and to remain ever faithful in the work of protecting those closest to the heart of Jesus”. 

   In communion in the love of Christ and the spirit of St. Vincent.

    Donatella Acerbi                                               Frank Donio, SAC
    President                                                           Vice President
                                    Rory Hanly, SAC

                                   General Secretary



_______________________________________________________________
UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE
POLICY STATEMENT
FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

1. DECLARATION
The Union of Catholic Apostolate, a public association of the faithful in the Catholic Church, recognizes the rights of all people to be treated equally and with dignity. This right is fundamental to the Christian ethos and is expressed by St. Vincent Pallotti in the following manner: Our “rules are like means for the most perfect observance of love towards God and our neighbour” (OOCC II, 31).

In keeping with this rule of observing love towards God and our neighbour in the most perfect manner possible, we uphold the right of all minors 1, irrespective of where they live or their circumstances, to be protected, nurtured and free from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, maltreatment and exploitation.

Therefore, as a public International association of the Faithful in the Church, the Union is fully committed to the protection of minors in the Church and in society.

When working with minors individually or in a group/institutional setting the members and collaborators of the Union will strive to achieve an environment that promotes safety, love and security for the individual.

In 2012, the highest decision-making body of the Union, the General Assembly, decreed the following: “While fully recognizing the principle stated in article number 40 of the General Statutes that all the communities of the Union are autonomous and their members are subject to their own regulations, both in the internal life of the community and its apostolates, the General Assembly of 2012, in the strongest possible terms, calls on all members, collaborators and communities of the Union to ensure that the highest standards are implemented and respected with regard to safeguarding children. This means that proper procedure be followed at all stages and in all instances of the life and work of members of the UAC with children.”2 

Following this decision of the last (III) Ordinary General Assembly regarding Safeguarding, this IV Ordinary General Assembly requests all of the members and collaborators to follow the directives regarding minors promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the National Episcopal Conferences, and the civil legislation of the countries where the Union is present.


Each Community of the Union and each NCC is to have a documented policy for Safeguarding minors. This policy will be reviewed and updated every three years. Policy reviews and updates will be reported by the President of the National Coordination Council (NCC) to the GCC before each General Assembly of the Union.

The GCC also requests all the Presidents of the NCCs to ensure a climate of Safeguarding and to provide education for the members and collaborators in this fundamental duty to safeguard minors and to ensure they are protected in all the apostolic activities undertaken by and associated with the Union.


Each NCC is also instructed to appoint a Designated Person to monitor and implement the Safeguarding policy and procedures document of the NCC.

2. GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The guiding principles associated with this policy are:

  •  Every person is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1,26); therefore every child should be cherished and affirmed as a gift from God with an inherent right to dignity of life and bodily integrity which is to be respected, nurtured and protected by all;
  •  Equality of persons is fundamental to the vision of the Union; therefore any action which would undermine this equality, be it towards a child or an adult, is contrary to this principle;
  •  There is no tolerance of abuse of minors, in accordance with the sanctity of life as enunciated by Our Lord Jesus: "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me" (Mk 9: 36-7);
  • Abuse is understood as a behaviour that hurts the dignity and integrity of the child and his or her overall development. Abuse may be physical, emotional or sexual; child sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or sexual arousal or that of others;3
  • Inappropriate communication with children through the Internet, e-mail, text messages or use of other social media, may also constitute abuse;
  • Visiting Internet sites that contain offensive, obscene, pornographic or illegal material is inappropriate behaviour; visiting such sites which involve children is a form of abuse;
  •  Children have a right to be listened to and heard: therefore any allegations and suspicions of abuse must be responded to effectively, the reporting procedure established is to be followed, and the allegation must be reported to the appropriate authorities;
  •  Children have a right to an environment free from abuse and neglect. Therefore, the members of the Union will seek to develop a culture of safety that minimises risk to children, which will include observing clear guidelines that set out what is and is not acceptable behaviour between adults and children and also what is acceptable behaviour among children (i.e. no bullying, or other forms of abusive behaviour);
  • Children should have access to good role models they can trust, who will respect and nurture their spiritual, physical and emotional development. Therefore any member of the Union engaged in pastoral, social or charitable activity of the Union which involves children is to be vetted by the Policing Authority of the country in order to prevent those who pose a risk to children from holding a position of trust;
  • Children learn through activities; therefore activities which engage members of the Union with children are to be planned and supervised in order to minimise any risk to their welfare;
  • Since the Union is committed at every level to remaining in communion with the hierarchy of the Church (cf. General Statutes 21), each NCC is bound by the policies of its respective Episcopal Conference. Therefore, every NCC is to be familiar with the Child Protection policy and procedures of its Episcopal Conference, is to elaborate its own Safeguarding policy and procedures in accordance with the former, and to ensure that such policy and procedures are complied with in the context of Union life and activity;
  •  Every NCC is to be familiar with the pertinent civil law regarding safeguarding minors, and to ensure that such policy and procedures are complied with in the context of Union life and activity;
  •   The Designated Safeguarding Person in each Community of the Union and in each NCC will ensure that the policies and procedures are put in place and implemented in practice;
  •  The Designated Safeguarding Person is to ensure the provision of training for members and collaborators with a view to creating a culture of safeguarding which will ensure that high standards and good practice are observed;
  • Every NCC must ensure that any institution under its authority which cares for minors will elaborate its own Safeguarding Policy according to civil law;
  • The NCC will ensure that the Safeguarding Policy and Procedures adopted by the NCC is published and disseminated to all members, collaborators and all those who engage with the Union or work with the Union in any capacity;
  • Any abuse which occurs will be reported to the appropriate authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical, in accordance with the laws of the individual countries, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum (cf. CDF 2011, I e). Those who have suffered child abuse are to receive a compassionate and just response and will be offered appropriate pastoral care and, if considered necessary, professional care to rebuild their lives.
  • Those who have harmed others should be helped to face up to the reality of abuse, as well as being assisted in healing; this will be done by the competent authority in the Union and by specially designated persons. The norms adopted by the National Episcopal Conference and by the Statutory Authorities will determine future engagement, if any, of those who have harmed others, in the apostolic work of the Union.



3. PROCEDURES AND PRACTICE TO BE FOLLOWED FOLLOWING AN ALLEGATION OF ABUSE

I. The requirements of Civil Law are followed.

II. Communities of the Union which are Ecclesiastically recognized entities and subject to the
supervision of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic
Life are subject to the promulgated norms of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in
matters relating to the abuse of minors and of vulnerable persons. The Major Superior of each
Community has responsibility to ensure compliance with these norms and to indicate the
appropriate procedure to be followed.

III. Individual members of the Union, members of a community which is not ecclesiastically
recognized, and collaborators, who participate in the public apostolate of the Union are bound
by the Safeguarding Policy and Procedures adopted by the Episcopal Conference of the
country of residence. They are also bound by this Common Declaration, Principles and
Procedures Document of the Union.

IV. When knowledge is obtained of a possible case of abuse by a member of the Union who is not 
a member of an ecclesiastically recognized Community and subject to the supervision of the
Congregation, the Designated Safeguarding Person is informed as is the Local Ordinary of the
accused member and the requirements of Civil Law are followed as indicated above.
V. The Designated Safeguarding Person of the NCC undertakes an initial evaluation of the
allegation and the Local Ordinary and the NCC President are kept informed.

4. CONCLUSION:

This Policy Statement and the outlining of principles and procedures, is, of necessity, inadequate 
to address the reality of what is safeguarding children from all forms of abuse. It is impossible to 
formulate a Policy and Procedures Document which would cater for the entirety of the Union 
throughout the world. However, the safeguarding of children is a priority for this ecclesiastical 
body in the Church of Jesus Christ. This Policy Statement will be further amended and extended in 
time.
__________________________________________________________________

1 In the area of protection of minors, and so for the purposes of this document, the terms ‘minor’ and ‘child’ refer to
anyone under 18 years of age (see CDF, Normae de gravioribus delictis, May 21, 2010, art. 6 § 1 n. 1; Circular Letter
May 3, 2011).
2 Minutes of the Third Ordinary General Assembly of the Union, Proposal approved on Child Protection.
3 Children First, National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (Department of Health and Children,
Ireland, 1999).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Apostles for Today

Prayer and Reflection - May 2015

The spiritual motivations for mission (EG 262-283) – Spiritual preparation for the General Congress of the Union in July 2015

“We wish to see Jesus (Jn 12:21) – some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem appealed to the Apostle Philip with this question, a question which also resonates in our times. The duty and task of proclaiming the Gospel was and always remains valid for the entire Church, which “is missionary by her very nature” (Ad Gentes, 2). We too, as members of the Union, are invited by Jesus to proclaim newness of life.
       Like the Greek pilgrims of two thousand years ago, many people today ask us, perhaps at times unconsciously, not only what we can “tell” them about Jesus, but above all what we can “show” them of Jesus. We are called to help our sisters and brothers who live close to us or in the most distant parts of the world that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that in him we ourselves have found the meaning and purpose of our lives.
       There are many people which the Good News has not yet reached. For this reason the missionary mandate of Jesus (“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” - Mt 28:19-20) is still relevant today.
       What did Jesus command his disciples to do? The first and most fundamental commandment which Jesus gave us is the commandment to love. If this is so, the missionary mandate which all of the baptised have received consists above all in revealing God who is LOVE; Saint Vincent Pallotti used to say that God is “Infinite Love”
       The Apostles not only heard from their Master that “God is love” (1Jn 4:8). They themselves experienced the love of God and received the grace to communicate it to others. This experience generated enthusiasm in their hearts. The Gospel speaks of the joy of the first disciples of Christ sent by the Master to the cities and villages with the mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
       All disciples of Christ are called to multiply this joy which is born in us as a fruit of the recounting of the life of Jesus described in the Gospel: to bear witness to the love with which he touches the life of every person, nourishing it with his Word. It is a joy which is born of and multiplies through making Jesus known to others, as friend and guide on one’s path of life. It is necessary to return to the “first love” with which Jesus filled our hearts, generating enthusiasm and joy: we can bear witness to our adherence to him who sends us every day to our sisters and brothers. Acting in this way, we can fully live what St. Paul expressed in words written to the Christians of Corinth: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14).
       A woman who has recently settled in a city where many young people live was telling me: “Often, going to the centre, I pass by two brothels, one with the name “Heaven” and the other beside a building with the words “I do sin, but I am not the devil” written in large letters in English. Seeing these places, I also observe the faces of the young people and, thinking about their lives, I am often spontaneously filled with sadness. I feel the love of Christ for them in my heart, and recall his life, given for their salvation. I reflect and seek ways to bring Christ into these places: I tell him about these people, young and older, who in a certain way are lost in their lives, and I entrust them to Mary Immaculate. I don’t get discouraged and I continue to believe that, one day, they too can meet Jesus. And in such moments, hope is transformed into joy and sadness loses its power”. This woman would still like to share her preoccupation for these young people with other members of the Union and will certainly do so.
       Pope Francis, speaking to us of the Church which “goes forth”, refers to the characters of the Old Testament such as Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah. He also indicates the witnesses to Jesus: Peter and the whole community of disciples. In this list of persons who go forth, God has inscribed our Founder, Saint Vincent Pallotti. But our names are also written there, Jesus also saying to each one of us today: “Go”.
A Moment of personal prayer:
       I invite you to open yourselves to the Holy Spirit and to feel in the depths of your heart this desire of Jesus and his sending: “Go”. He invites you to begin a path on which you will meet people who have not yet found either joy or the love that God has for each one of us.
       “The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. […] This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present” [EG 21].
       Duc in altum! (Put out into the deep!) Jesus also invites us to put out into the deep sea in the world of today. The missionary spirit which should inspire us moves us to welcome his exhortation with the certainty that he is with us. Only by living in communion with him will we not fear to meet people who, at times, because of their complicated situations, can frighten us. Jesus desires that all may rediscover, in service directed to others, the joy and missionary enthusiasm of the Gospel. We do not expect ourselves to be strong people having solutions to all of life’s problems. Above all, it is necessary to look at what Jesus did and learn from him to listen to every person, to feel their pain and express with trust and conviction that there are THREE of us together who are carrying the weight and, if possible, resolving the problems. Jesus who sends us is always with us.
       The Pope says to us: “A missionary heart is aware of these limits and makes itself “weak with the weak... everything for everyone” (1 Cor 9:22). It never closes itself off, never retreats into its own security, never opts for rigidity and defensiveness. It realizes that it has to grow in its own understanding of the Gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street”(EG 45).
       “A Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open. Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world. Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way. At times we have to be like the father of the prodigal son, who always keeps his door open so that when the son returns, he can readily pass through it” (EG 46).
       God, Infinite Love, leads the Church towards all people who live at the ends of the earth, sending evangelisers who are faithful to Jesus, their Master. They too, in order to preserve the freshness of their own vocation, fill their hearts with the love which flows from the Heart of Jesus. It is the place where they learn to be sensitive, compassionate, available for service, meek of heart and interested in knowing the problems of others in order to commit themselves to helping them.

Community sharing:
       Each person is invited to recount a difficult situation in which they live or a meeting with others. Together as a group, reflect and seek ways to invite Jesus into the paths of our lives and to do it as THREE. Finish the sharing with spontaneous prayer for all of the people mentioned and their situations.

Let us pray together:
       “Star of the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world. Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us. Amen. Alleluia!” (EG 288).

Prayer in the month of May:
       In this month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, we pray for families in serious difficulties, for young people who face challenges greater than their strength and for all of the members and collaborators of the Union, so that they may live their missionary commitment moved by the love of Christ and by love for the sisters and brothers that they encounter on the path of life.
                                                         Sr. Barbara Rohde, SAC,
                                                         National Formation Promoter,
                                                         Poland.
____________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org