DIOCESE OF CLEVELAND New code of conduct guides church workers
Priests and all who work with children must agree to the ethical standards.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland has issued a code of conduct for its priests, employees and volunteers who work with children.
Church workers may not sleep in the same room with minors, be the only adult in a locker room used by youngsters, or even take a child to a movie or ballgame by themselves.
The new standards were issued by Bishop Anthony M. Pilla and took effect Friday. They set ethical boundaries for the more than 50,000 volunteers and church employees, from priests and deacons to baseball coaches.
"It's part of our commitment to integrity in ministry and to challenge the society we live in to do the same," said the Rev. Lawrence Jurcak, a diocesan vicar.
The scandal over priests sexually abusing minors has prompted dioceses around the country to develop new guidelines for ministry.
The U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People requires a code of conduct and ethics for all church workers who have regular contact with children.
Nearly 5 percent, or 118, of the 2,515 priests and deacons who served in the Cleveland diocese from 1950 to 2002 were accused of sex abuse, according to a church-sanctioned tally released last year.
The number of clerics accused in Cleveland far surpassed numbers provided by Ohio's other dioceses. The Cleveland diocese has said the 118 alleged abusers are no longer in active ministry.
Bishop Pilla's new standards warn all church employees that physical contact with youth can be misconstrued and should occur only in public when the action is completely nonsexual and otherwise appropriate.
In addition, no church worker may meet with anyone under the age of 18 in a separate room unless there is a window on the door or the door is open.
The only exception is for confession in a church building.
Clergy are warned against inappropriate or long embraces, holding minors over 2 years old on their laps, wrestling with minors, providing piggyback rides or giving any compliments that relate to physique.
Any church worker who provides pastoral counseling or spiritual direction to adults is asked to avoid physical contact, including touching, holding or hugging, because it could be misconstrued, the policy said.