Many people will ask me why there are so many rules and regulations in the Catholic Church. Some people assume some things are rules. Most people think Ash Wednesday is a holy day of obligation, but it is not. Some people think praying the rosary every day is a rule of the church. It is something we promote, but it is not a rule. In fact, there are a lot of traditions that we as Catholics do that are not rules. We find that they help us in faith.
Most rules are there to help us in faith too. Requiring everybody to go to Mass on weekends and going to confession at least once a year are great examples of faith building regulations. At times it may not feel like it, but sometimes we need that nudge to remind us of something better. Our faith in Jesus.
More recently we have encountered some more regulations by the Church that do allow for the freedom in faith and for the safety of our children. The “Protecting God’s Children” program is one such rule that teaches us how to identify the bad guys. Unfortunately, the Devil has no shame and will do whatever he can to wedge his way into the church to hurt our most innocent people, our children. The bishops want to give as many as people as possible the ability to identify these people in hopes that they will not want to expose themselves. That is why it is so important to take the “Protecting God’s Children” program and to sign the accompanying paperwork. All volunteers are required to do so, or they will not be allowed to volunteer. Besides the fact that it is required, shouldn’t we all want to have this kind of knowledge? Even if one child were to be prevented from being hurt, it is well worth it.
By Illinois law, all volunteers are required to be mandated reporters. If we see any abuse of children, it is good to let the proper authorities know. This paperwork is in the office for any volunteer to sign. We also have a “Code for the Pastoral Use of Technology and Social Media.” It seems strange to have volunteers who do not even plan on working with children sign such a paper. Most of us do not think of such things as much, but when we do stop and think about it, nearly all predators use the internet to find their next community of victims. The internet can be a very dangerous place to be, especially for children who do not have adults guarding them. Another such document would be the “Guidelines for Youth and Those Working with Youth.” With this knowledge, if a volunteer were to see something that would contradict this policy, they would be able to identify and report it.
We also have the “Pastoral Code of Conduct” which is mostly common sense, but sets the standard along with the “Norms for prohibition of sexual abuse and misconduct.”
All of these forms are necessary to complete in order to be a volunteer in the Catholic Church throughout the United States. They are available in the office to sign. With the Protecting God’s Children program, there is a video that is available online, so you can do this at your convenience. There is also a quiz after. You can take the quiz as often as needed. If you do not have internet, you can come into the office and use our guest laptop during office hours.
I cannot imagine having a church without children. They go hand in hand. So should their safety. The Catholic Church is looking for its laity to help the church make sure it is safe for our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They are worth it.