LCWR Responses to Allegations of Member Sexual Misconduct
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious shares the concerns voiced by the representatives of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) at the October 3, 2004 meeting, as well as those offered to LCWR by other persons similarly committed to justice and healing for survivors of sexual misconduct by women religious. LCWR and its member congregations have, for a long time, been committed to prevention of future misconduct as well as to healing of survivors. The following list is an outline of past, present and future actions of LCWR addressing the issue of sexual misconduct.
What LCWR has done:
- Offered a series of workshops In the early 1990s to help leaders develop policies to address member misconduct, followed by a publication of the LCWR journal with additional resources
- Held a session at the 2002 assembly on responding from a pastoral perspective to allegations of sexual misconduct by women religious, with an emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation
- Issued a public statement in August 2002 on the sexual misconduct crisis in the Church which was published in America magazine and The National Catholic Reporter, two national publications
- Provided a pre-assembly workshop in 2003 on the pastoral and legal dimensions of responding to allegations of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct
- Encouraged members periodically to use the services of Legal Resource Center for Religious in developing, critiquing and updating member misconduct policies
- Invited a staff member from the Legal Resource Center for Religious in 2003 to consult with the LCWR national board in establishing regional review boards
- Encouraged LCWR regions to share policies, practices and procedures regarding member misconduct
- Provided an assessment tool to members as to what should be included in policies, procedures and practices regarding member misconduct
What LCWR is doing:
- Engaging a research organization to conduct a national inventory of policies, procedures and practices of its member communities. The purpose is two-fold:
o To ascertain that members have policies, procedures and practices in place to address allegations and to prevent further abuse
o To help identify areas that still need further work
- Collaborating with the Legal Resource Center for Religious and St. Luke’s Institute to plan two workshops for presentation in the spring of 2005. The focus will be
o The pastoral and legal responsibilities of leaders in addressing allegations
o The pastoral and legal response to survivors, those accused and all those affected.
- Publishing the winter 2005 issue of the LCWR journal that includes educational articles for leaders addressing sexual misconduct and its impact. One of the articles will be written by a group of women religious who are survivors of sexual misconduct.
- Investigating funding sources in order to develop an educational video that would incorporate the testimony of survivors of sexual misconduct by women religious
- Developing models for outreach that could be used by LCWR congregations to enhance access for survivors
- Developing a network of LCWR members with experience responding to allegations, who can mentor other leaders