Safe Environment Office Mission
All Children have the right to be safe and protected from harm in any and all environments – home, school, religious institutions, neighborhoods, and communities. The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings embraces this right to safety and is dedicated to promoting and ensuring the protection of all children. The Diocese will create safe environments for children, young people, and vulnerable adults.
- In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) drafted a landmark document in response to the crisis of sexual abuse of children in the Church. This document set forth the agreed-upon responsibilities in combating the problem from within each diocese. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was disseminated and the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings established a program as follows:
- Report to the Bishop regarding compliance with Article 12 of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
- Appoint a liaison for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings to communicate, assist, and provide instructional materials to clergy, teachers, volunteers, and others who work with children.
- Develop and ensure compliance with an adult program in adherence to the Charter.
- Assure updates to the Charter are communicated fulfill record-keeping requirements.
- Gather data from parishes and schools for audit purposes and actively participate in the audit process.
- Establish an Independent Review Board (IRB) to act as a confidential consultative body to the Bishop.
Independent Review Board
As mandated in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Bishop Michael Warfel has selected a group of competent people to turn to for advice. As stated in the Charter, “Dioceses . . . will also have a review board that functions as a confidential consultative body to the bishop… The majority of its members will be lay persons not in the employ of the diocese… This board will advise the diocesan…bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of suitability for ministry. It will regularly review diocesan…policies and procedures for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. Also, the board can review these matters both retrospectively and prospectively and give advice on all aspects of responses required in connection with these cases” (USCCB Charter and Norms for the Protection of Children and Young People, Article 12).
Review Board Documents
In the Event of an Emergency, Call 911
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services/
Child & Family Services Division