Letter from Archbishop VigneronHome > Marking the 20th Anniversary of the Dallas Charter > Letter from Archbishop Vigneron
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Twenty years ago, in early 2002, numerous reports surfaced regarding decades of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and indifference to that abuse from Church leaders. The victim-survivors of this abuse bravely bared their wounds, detailed their experiences, and demanded reform. While this was an immensely difficult time for the Church in America, it was good.
It was good because it laid before God and all society the crimes committed by priests and other Church leaders. The revelations and discussions which followed ignited a light to cast out the darkness of sin, paving the way for reform and accountability in the Church, and reconciliation and healing in our communities.
In June of that year, the bishops of the United States adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, commonly known as the “Dallas Charter” for the city in which it was adopted. This Charter established, for the first time, uniform “zero tolerance” procedures for the handling of clerical sexual abuse allegations and required all U.S. dioceses and archdioceses to put in place practices that would prevent abuse from occurring in the first place.
In recognition of this year’s twentieth anniversary of the Dallas Charter, I offer here a summary of the implementation and impact of Charter provisions in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Included in this report are data reflecting a sharp decrease in clerical sexual abuse cases over the last two decades, alongside the adoption of zero-tolerance for abuse allegations in ministry, collaborative partnerships with law enforcement, and mandatory criminal background checks and safe environment trainings for all clergy, lay employees, and volunteers who work with children and vulnerable adults.
By walking in the light of truths exposed twenty years ago, the Archdiocese of Detroit has dedicated these past two decades to driving out the darkness these crimes brought upon our communities. We recognize, however, that one case of abuse – just one victim-survivor of such an act – is one suffering soul too many. We will continue the work of eradicating abuse from our communities and creating safe environments in which everyone can experience the life Christ offers us, confident that the darkness shall not prevail.
With assurances of my prayers to St. Anne and to Blessed Solanus that you may find solace in the Risen Lord, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit
Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or email@example.com.
Individuals also may contact the Archdiocese of Detroit by visiting protect.aod.org or by calling the 24/7 victim assistance line at (866) 343-8055 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. There are no time limits or restrictions on individuals wishing to report abuse.
For more information on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s response to abuse and commitment to preventing future incidents from occurring in our communities, please visit protect.aod.org.