Protecting the Safety and Innocence of All Children
“So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.”
—2 Corinthians 5:20a
Honoring our Commitment to Parents
A single incident of sexual abuse is one too many.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has heard from victims across the country who have been sexually abused by clergy members. The Archdiocese of Omaha was not immune to this evil.
Every single one of us in the archdiocese is invited and highly encouraged to make a commitment to our children to protect their wellbeing. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ. It is up to all of us to care and protect the most vulnerable among us.
“So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” (2 Cor 5:20a)
All clergy, employees, volunteers and trusted adults are ambassadors to ensure a safe environment for all.
Honoring our Community
The sad truth is abuse can happen anywhere.
It is a societal issue. It’s our responsibility to ensure that all children, everywhere, are protected and safe.
Abuse won’t end unless we are all trained to recognize the signs, empowered to protect victims, and courageous enough to stop the cycle.
The Archdiocese of Omaha is prepared to protect all children, everywhere. We’ve been proving our commitment to keeping children safe for years.
Here are some results of our efforts:
- In the last five years, 24,840 adults have been Safe Environment Certified.
- In the last five years, 22,564 criminal background checks have been completed.
- In 2020, 25,365 children/youth completed the "Circle of Grace" curriculum.
Honoring Our Future
All children deserve to be safe.
They deserve to have a joyful childhood. They deserve to be surrounded by adults who care.
The Archdiocese of Omaha is committed to protecting all children. The way we do this is requiring anyone who is in contact with minors to be Safe Environment Certified.
What is Safe Environment Certification?
What is Circle of Care training?
What is Circle of Grace training?
How are we remaining accountable?
Safe Environment Certification is the key to providing a safe place for our children, and it’s a way to honor their trust in us as adults.
The certification has three steps:
- Completing a criminal background check and having it approved
- Reading and acknowledging the Archdiocesan Code of Conduct
- Taking Circle of Care in-person training
This certification is valid for six years. Re-certification can be achieved through online training and a new background check.
More than 40,000 adults and children in the Archdiocese of Omaha have been trained.
In collaboration with social workers, mental health professionals, educators and theologians, the Archdiocese of Omaha created Circle of Care training. This two-hour in-person training helps adults recognize the signs of abuse and neglect to help keep all children safe in our community.
Archbishop Lucas has mandated that Circle of Grace be taught annually to all children (K-12) in Catholic schools, Religious Education and Youth Ministry programs.
It is a faith-based, clinically sound program which teaches children and youth about healthy and unhealthy boundaries, how to talk to a trusted adult when they feel uncomfortable, and other age-appropriate skills. Circle of Grace is currently taught in 60 other dioceses across the country. It is also utilized in Nicaragua, Phillipines and Nigeria. Circle of Grace was written right here in Omaha.
In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops created guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of sexual abuse. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People provides the structure in which we follow to protect our children. The Archdiocese of Omaha goes further than what the Charter outlines by mandating criminal background checks.
Part of the checks and balances of the Charter are audits. Every year, the Victim Outreach and Prevention Office conducts multiple parish and school audits to ensure policies and guidelines are being followed, and every three years the archdiocese is audited by the USCCB.
Here are some of the results of our efforts:
were Safe Environment Certified in the last five years
22,564 Criminal Background Checks
were completed in the last five years
25,365 Children/Youth completed Circle of Grace training
in the last five years
If you have contact with children in a role you have in the Church, it’s now a requirement that you be Safe Environment Certified. Start the process and sign up for training right now.
This is Nebraska law: we are all obligated to contact the authorities if abuse or neglect is suspected. Call 911 or the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-652-1999 if you are worried about a child.
We take each incident very seriously and assist with comprehensive counseling services. Please pay attention to warning signs and contact us if help is needed. Contact Mary Beth Hanus, LMHP, Director of the Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention, at 1-888-808-9055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honoring our Responsibility
We operate in a culture of transparency and trust.
With all of our hearts, we want people to be heard, and to heal. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the Church, please contact us:
Mary Beth Hanus, LMHP, Director of the Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention, at 1-888-808-9055 or email@example.com
The Victim Outreach and Prevention Office is here for you:
- We listen to and help anyone who was abused as a minor.
- We provide information about counseling and spiritual resources.
- We help navigate financial resources for insurance co-pays and retreats.
- We assist with bringing your concerns to other dioceses if the abuse occurred elsewhere and the Archdiocese of Omaha is now your home.
Our faith guides us and we prayerfully ask for the healing of victims everywhere, and a joyful childhood for children everywhere.
Below is a prayer you can adopt in your daily life, at church and with your loved ones.
God of life and love,
You created us in your image
And sent Your Son to bring us life.
Instill in us a respect for all life,
From conception to natural death.
Empower us to work for
Justice for the poor.
Nourish us that we may
Bring food for the hungry.
Inspire us to cherish the fragile life of the unborn.
Strengthen us to bring comfort
To the chronically ill.
Teach us to treat the aging
With dignity and respect.
Guide us in protecting all your children from all harm.
Heal all the victims of abuse in our
Parishes, schools and community.
We ask this through
Christ our Lord and Brother.