Where to Turn for Help

If you or someone you know believe that a Franciscan Friar of the Sacred Heart Province has violated the boundaries outlined in this pamphlet, please report such behavior to the Provincial Survivor Assistance Coordinator, Lynn Duffield, MSW.  Your case will be handled with sensitivity and confidentiality. To ensure that happens, please, mark any written correspondence “Personal and Confidential.”

Lynn Duffield, MSW

3140 Meramec Street

St. Louis, Missouri 63118

        

314-250-2275

                                         

Our Response to Sexual Abuse

The Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province recognize that sexual misconduct by ministers of the Catholic Church has devastating consequences for victims and their families, for the lay and religious communities, and for the perpetrators.  We have become increasingly aware of the effects of this tragic behavior and are committed to helping those affected.

This website is intended to provide basic information about:

 (1) how the Franciscans in the Sacred Heart Province understand appropriate behavior within their relationships, 

(2) what the Province’s procedures are for responding to complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior, and 

(3) to whom those subjected to sexual misconduct can turn for help.

Integrity in Relationships


The Franciscans of Sacred Heart Province commit themselves to Christian morality and integrity in all their relationships—personal, public, and professional.  We commit ourselves to recognizing, reverencing, and protecting the rights and dignity of all those with whom and for whom we serve.  Friars are forbidden to engage in any form of sexual misconduct, and those who do so will be removed from public ministry. 

Sexual misconduct is a general term that encompasses sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, and boundary violations of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual conduct or language between co-workers in the Church setting.  It may include, but is not limited to:

  • Unsolicited sexual advances and propositions
  • Retaliation against a co-worker who refuses sexual advances
  • The use of sexually degrading words to describe an individual or his/her body.
  • The telling of inappropriate or sexually-charged jokes
  • Offers of preferential treatment such as promotions, positive performance evaluations, or favorably assigned duties or shifts in exchange for sexual favors.

Sexual exploitation in the context of the Church consists in the nonconsensual use or abuse of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit, personal advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose. Examples of sexual exploitation would include, but are not limited to:

  • Observing, photographing, or videoing another’s nudity or sexual activity without their knowledge or consent
  • Nonconsensual distribution of images of another’s nudity or sexual activity
  • Making, possession, use, and/or distribution of child pornography

Sexual abuse in the context of the Church is sexual contact between a religious and a minor or vulnerable adult.  Sexual abuse can include physical contact, verbal behavior, or actions such as:

  • Sexual touch or other physical contact that makes the person being touched feel uncomfortable
  • Giving a sexually charged gift (such as lingerie)
  • A prolonged hug when a brief hug is customary behavior
  • Kissing on the lips when a kiss on the cheek would be appropriate
  • Showing sexually suggestive objects or pornography
  • Sexual intercourse, anal or oral sex
  • Innuendo or sexual talk
  • Suggestive comments
  • Descriptions of sexual experiences, fantasies, or conflicts
  • Sexual propositions

Boundary violations is a less specific term which could encompass all of the aforementioned misbehaviors.  It is a term used to describe the intrusion upon a person’s dignity and privacy for the purpose of providing sexual gratification to the friar/minister and not for the benefit of the individual in the relationship.


The Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province want to leave no doubt about their position in regard to any of these tragic experiences.  Sexual misconduct by any Member, Employee or Volunteer is a violation of a person’s human dignity and is contrary to the Gospel, the teaching of the Church, and the Law of the Church.  In their professional and personal lives, all members of the Province and all ministers of the Church (clergy, religious, and lay) are to conduct themselves with integrity and to refrain from sexual harassment, exploitation, boundary violations, or abuse.


It is not uncommon for those who seek the Church’s ministry to feel attracted to a religious or to be flattered by his or her attention.  It is the conviction of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province that someone’s attraction to a friar does not excuse any form of sexual misconduct on the friar’s part.  It is entirely the responsibility of the friar to maintain appropriate emotional and sexual boundaries with those with whom he works and/or serves.

How the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province Respond to Complaints of Sexual Misconduct

The Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province will respond to all allegations of sexual misconduct with great care and will offer help, including appropriate psychological and spiritual counseling, to anyone who alleges sexual misconduct by a friar.  

The Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province will respond swiftly to evaluate and investigate any allegations of sexual misconduct by a friar.  Every effort, including the use of independent investigators, will be made to ensure that these investigations are reliable and impartial.  Any friar found to have sexually abused a minor will be permanently removed from public ministry.  In addition, a safety plan will be developed to provide ongoing monitoring and supervision for the rest of the friar’s life as a Franciscan.

In keeping with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Franciscan Friars of Sacred Heart Province have established a Review Board to offer advice regarding the Province’s policies, protocols, and responses to allegations of sexual misconduct.  The Review Board is composed of two Franciscan members of Sacred Heart Province along with five or more lay professionals with appropriate training, experience, and expertise.  The Review Board helps ensure the policies and practices of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province promote the safety and well-being of children and young adults, as well as appropriate relationships between the friars and anyone with whom they associate.
 

Preventing Sexual Misconduct

The Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province have adopted a series of measures intended to prevent any future incidents of sexual abuse by its members.  These include extensive screening and mandatory psychological evaluation of all applicants for admission to the Postulancy Program as well as ongoing education about issues related to sexuality and personal conduct for friars in their first years of Franciscan life in the Province.  Friars in final vows are required to participate regularly in training for the protection of children and vulnerable adults. 

Conclusion

It is the firm belief of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province that our friars must maintain appropriate boundaries with all people in order to preserve the integrity of their personal and ministerial relationships.  Anyone with knowledge of inappropriate behavior by a friar of the Sacred Heart Province–whether past or present–is asked to come forward with this information so that others can be spared from harm.  The hope and prayer of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province is that everyone can join in this effort to promote the safety and well-being of all people, whether they are children or adults, and so promote the healing of all those who are in pain because of the abuse they have experienced.