The Catholic Church of St. Ann and the Archdiocese of Atlanta are committed to helping children and young people learn and grow in a healthy and safe environment. The thousands of children who attend Mass here and are enrolled in our programs are guided and inspired by volunteers, clergy and staff who have been specially trained to keep our young people safe.
A set of procedures handed down from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 and updated regularly is the foundation of St. Ann’s safe environment policies. Clergy, staff and volunteers at St. Ann work on many fronts to ensure safety here:
•Training: St. Ann proudly offers safe environment training through a program called VIRTUS: Protecting God’s Children. Available nearly every week around Atlanta and on the St. Ann campus, this course is designed to prevent wrongdoing in religious organizations and communities and promote “right-doing.” The parish requires all volunteers who work with children or vulnerable adults to go through this course every five years. Sign up for VIRTUS Workshops.
•Mandatory reporting: All clergy, staff members and volunteers at St. Ann are required to report to state authorities if they have reasonable cause to suspect a child is being abused. If you think a child is being abused, take action.
•Background checks: Staff and volunteers at St. Ann are required to submit to a background check every five years.
•Campus security: St. Ann shuts down access to the classrooms where our young people gather for religious education and preschool. Only credentialed staff have key cards to pass through these hallways during school hours. Staff has also received active shooter and firearms protocol information. This information is also available at the end of this page.
•Launch Children’s Ministry: St. Ann’s religious education program for elementary school aged children has developed policies to ensure the safety of our parish youth.
•Social media policy: The Archdiocese of Atlanta and St. Ann recognize the powerful tool electronic media can be to evangelize and educate. St. Ann’s communications department has implemented the social media policies recommended by the archdiocese including having at least two parish employees overseeing every social media account and not advertising or making accessible to youth staff and volunteer accounts.
Father Ray Letter RE: Abuse scandal
November 6, 2018 - The Archdiocese of Atlanta has released a list of all credible sexual abuse allegations in the Atlanta Archdiocese since 1956 when the Diocese was formed. Click HERE to read Father Ray's letter in response to the list.
What is the hierarchy of the church doing in response to the recent revelations concerning the sexual abuse crisis?
Pope vows to confront predators https://www.foxnews.com/world/pope-vows-to-confront-sex-abusers-predators-with-wrath-of-god
Pope urges predators within church to turn themselves in: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/pope-francis-urges-sexual-predators-within-church-turn-themselves-n950791
Bishops to address abuse at November meeting: http://www.usccb.org/news/2018/18-172.cfm
Cupich says bishops must cede authority: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/exclusive-cupich-says-bishops-must-cede-authority-allow-lay-oversight
Pope accepts Weurl's resignation: https://georgiabulletin.org/news/2018/10/pope-accepts-cardinal-wuerls-resignation-as-washington-archbishop/
Pope Francis defrocks Chilean priests: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/francis-defrocks-two-retired-chilean-bishops-demonstrated-abuse-minors
Atlanta archbishop responds to abuse crisis: https://georgiabulletin.org/news/2018/10/archbishop-answers-important-questions-from-parishioners/
Bishops set goals for investigation, reporting, resolution: http://www.usccb.org/news/2018/18-139.cfm
Pope summons bishops to meeting on abuse scandal: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/world/europe/pope-bishops-conference.html
Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/charter.cfm
Safe Environment Office: https://archatl.com/ministries-services/safe-environment/
How do I contact the hierarchy and make my voice known?
What are the causes of such behavior?
The John Jay College Study http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/The-Causes-and-Context-of-Sexual-Abuse-of-Minors-by-Catholic-Priests-in-the-United-States-1950-2010.pdf
Separating facts about clergy abuse from fiction: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-the-right-thing/201808/separating-facts-about-clergy-abuse-fiction
Clergy sex abuse not about gay priests: https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2018/09/10/clergy-sex-abuse-not-about-gay-priests-top-psychologist-says/
Where can I go to read more about keeping my children safe?
Create safe environments at school, church, home: https://archatl.com/offices/child-and-youth-protection/resources/
Technology safety through the eyes of faith: https://www.faithandsafety.org
Virtus parent handbook: https://www.virtusonline.org/virtus/ParentHandbook.pdf
Where can I go to read more about the sex abuse crisis?
National Catholic Reporter: www.ncronline.com
Catholic News Service: www.catholicnews.com
Firearms and Active Shooter Protocols
With news of many recent tragedies, mass shootings and other violent acts at synagogues, mosques, and universities, this is a reminder that we have training and a protocol in place to help keep us all safe.
We continue to pray for victims, their families, and our local and global communities.
Catholic Mutual Group has tips and immediate information available about active shooter training and resources: Catholic Mutual - Church Security.
Here is a link about how to prepare your church/school for a potential active shooter: Active Shooter Presentation.
Online trainings and more safety information are also available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Resources to Protect Your House of Worship.
Finally, in 2014, Archbishop Gregory issued a decree regarding weapons in our churches/schools. The decree can be viewed here.
For further explanation, please see this Georgia Bulletin article and Archbishop Gregory’s 2014 column: