April 8, 2022  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

— June 2022 will mark the 20th Anniversary of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People–

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is commemorating National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April by reaffirming the Archdiocese’s commitment to protect our children and young people from sexual abuse. During the month, parishes and schools are called to highlight abuse prevention efforts through various prayer events and activities.

Joan Vienna, Coordinator of the Office of Safeguard the Children reports “that in keeping with our commitment, nearly 400,000 clergy, educators, volunteers, parents, and guardians have participated in the VIRTUS® Protecting God’s Children Adult Awareness Program.” In an ongoing commitment to excellence, Vienna also announced “a newly revised 4.0 Los Angeles version of the Program will be released in May 2022. Additionally, the Empowering God’s Children and Young People” Safety Program, also created by the Office of Safeguard the Children, has help to empower more than 340,000 children and young people with the knowledge and tools needed to help protect themselves from child sexual abuse. Together we are making a difference!”

In addition, June 2022 will mark the 20th Anniversary of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been committed to the implementation of the Charter since its inception.

“In recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the Charter and in commemoration of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a gift packet has been sent to all parishes and schools. The packet contains: new posters, stickers, and 2022 National Child Abuse Prevention Month & Blue Sunday Resource Booklet to help highlight the month. Included in the packet is the “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” brochure, with a special message from Archbishop José H. Gomez. This resource also provides a current listing of safe environment policies, programs, resources, and reporting contact numbers.” said Vienna.

Among the outreach efforts, the Archdiocese will also lead the faithful in its third Novena of prayer and reflection for healing from sexual abuse beginning Friday, April 22 until Saturday, April 30 leading up to the end of the National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The novena, organized by the Archdiocese’s Victims Assistance Ministry, is offered in support of all sexual abuse survivors –those harmed in their families, the Church, or the community at large. As there are still ongoing restrictions to public gatherings and worship service due to the Covid-19 pandemic, faithful are invited to join the novena daily via livestream on lacatholics.org/united-together and facebook.com/lacatholics.

“June 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People –a landmark initiative implemented by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” said Dr. Heather Banis, the Archdiocese’s Victims Assistance Ministry Coordinator. “All of us associated with the Victims Assistance Ministry strive to bring to life the Church’s commitment to respond with compassion to those harmed by the sexual misconduct of someone in the church –to provide resources in support of genuine healing, to ensure that the appropriate civil authorities are informed in a timely manner, and to continuously deepen our understanding of the impact of such abuse, knowing that such understanding is essential to our efforts and to the Church’s renewal.”

Each day of the novena, a different parish in the tri-county Archdiocese (Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara counties) will host a prayer service or celebrate Mass livestreamed on lacatholics.org/united-together dedicated to healing from sexual abuse, especially the victim-survivors served by the Archdiocese’s Victims Assistance Ministry, their families and friends, and all those in the Church who struggle with, and hope to heal, the wounds of sexual abuse in the Church and our communities.

The nine days of prayer and reflection will begin on Friday, April 22 at Our Lady of Grace in Encino at 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, April 30 at St. Paul of the Cross in La Mirada at 5 p.m. Other sites across the Archdiocese will host the Novena, including Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Ventura, St. Raphael Parish in Los Angeles, and St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. For a complete listing of the schedule please visit, lacatholics.org/united-together.

During the novena, faithful are asked to decorate and light a candle at home for the healing of those who have suffered from sexual abuse. Prayer intentions and intercessions during the novena include the protection of the most vulnerable in our communities, for the healing and comfort of those who have been sexually abused, and that all families strive to provide safe and nurturing environments for children and young people.

The Archdiocese has created a website, https://lacatholics.org/protect/ that serves as a comprehensive tool containing resources, programs, and services for protecting children and reporting abuse.

For more information about April, Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Archdiocese’s Office of Safeguard the Children, and the Victims Assistance Ministry, visit lacatholics.org/child-abuse-prevention-month.