Report Child Abuse

To report suspected abuse of a minor, call the toll free PA Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-932-0313 or https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home. To report suspected abuse of a minor by a church official, employee or volunteer, also please call the Diocese of Harrisburg Youth Protection Hotline: 1-800-626-1608 or email: [email protected].

Para reportar la sospecha del abuso de un menor, llame al número de teléfono gratuíto Línea de Ayuda Abuso del Niño Pennsylvania 1-800-932-0313 o https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home. Para reportar la sospecha del abuso de un menor a manos de un official, empleado o voluntario de la iglesia, también llame al número de teléfono gratuíto de ayuda diocesana: 1-800-626-1608 o envíe correo electrónico: [email protected].

Whenever someone reports suspected sexual abuse of a minor to the Diocese, whether a recent or past occurrence, the Diocese will act quickly and decisively in justice for all concerned and in complete compliance with both canon and civil law. Detailed information on the Diocesan response once a report is received can be found on pages 21-30 of the Diocesan Youth Protection Policy.

With regard to federal, state and local law, it is important to note:

  • The Diocese upholds the right of any individual to report any accusation of the sexual abuse of a minor to civil authorities according to state or federal law. Without exception, clergy and Church personnel are to comply with the current reporting requirements of state or federal law, as well as the reporting requirements of the USCCB Charter. To this end, the Diocese will forward every accusation of the suspected sexual abuse of a minor to the appropriate civil authorities. This will be done even if the accused is deceased at the time the accusation is made, or if the alleged activity occurred many years ago.
  • Civil law in every jurisdiction in the United States designates sexual abuse of a child as a crime. As such, the Diocese will encourage the accuser or Survivor to report the accusation to the proper civil authorities without delay. If either the accusation has not already been reported to civil authorities, or the accuser or Survivor chooses not to make a voluntary report to the civil authorities, the Diocese will make this report.
  • Whenever a report is made to civil authorities, the Diocese will closely collaborate with the civil authorities in any investigation of the accusation. Such cooperation will not, however, limit the Diocese in taking appropriate steps that follow the norms of canon law and fulfill our religious and spiritual mission to protect others from abuse or to suspend or remove the accused from ministry or employment.
  • Should a competent civil authority request the Diocese not conduct an inquiry into an accusation, the Diocese will seek such direction, in writing, and may comply with the request after seeking appropriate canonical and civil counsel. The decision of the Diocesan Bishop, whether to comply with such a request, will be based on counsel’s advice and the Bishop’s best judgment as to other persons being in danger of abuse if the Diocese fails to act in a timely manner.
  • Even if an accused party is not prosecuted criminally under state or federal law, the Diocese may still pursue disciplinary action as provided under canon or civil law.

With regard to canon law, it is important to note:

  • The Church mandates that, in response to an accusation of the sexual abuse of a minor received by a Diocesan Bishop that appears to be credible, the Diocesan Bishop must conduct a Preliminary Inquiry in a manner that respects the reputation of all parties involved (cf. canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law).
  • Although there is no specific “right” to an advocate or canonical counsel during the Preliminary Inquiry, if the accused or the accuser requests canonical counsel, the Diocese will assist that person in locating a canon lawyer with whom they may consult. The Diocese, however, will not provide the canon lawyer, nor will the Diocese provide any compensation for a canonical advocate.