Safe Environment Program
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in response to reports of sexual abuse of children and young people by some priests and bishops. In 2003 the Sexual Ethics Policy was promulgated in response to the Charter. This Policy was revised in 2012 and retitled the Child Protection Policy and developed around the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This policy is intended to assure that our children and young people enrolled in Catholic Schools and who participate in church-related activities in our parishes are safe. A Step-by-Step Guide produced in 2018 is a resource for parishes and Catholic Schools to use in implementing and maintaining the safe environment program.
The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is firmly committed to the health and protection of our children, young people, and vulnerable adults. The pervasiveness of child abuse in society demands that we take individual responsibility to acquaint ourselves with its cause and with the steps we can take toward its prevention.
Code of Conduct
The Catholic Church must be exemplary; clergy, employees (diocesan, parish, school), and volunteers are held accountable for their behavior. To enable the highest level of accountability, there must be a clear and unambiguous definition of appropriate behavior.
To this end, the Code of Pastoral Conduct is defined for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and provides a foundation for implementing effective and enforceable standards for all clergy, educators, employees, and volunteers with access to children and youth.
Safe Environment Foundational Documents
Anyone can report suspected abuse or neglect of a child. In Montana, child abuse or neglect includes physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of minors (as well as exploitation) and is taken seriously by the Montana justice system. Adults with regular access to or communication with children who have reason to believe a child has been abused are required to report it to the authorities.
Mandatory reporters in Montana include; teachers, clergy, police officers, and child care workers. Reports can be made by phone to the local Family Service office and should be made immediately after the first suspicion of abuse. To report possible child abuse or neglect call toll-free 1 (866) 820-5437 to speak with a Centralized Intake Specialist.