Recently the New York Times had a front-page article about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He has been removed from active ministry because of credible allegations against him of sexual abuse of a minor decades ago. This makes Cardinal McCarrick the highest-ranking Bishop to be removed from ministry over the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Which is a terrible and shameful thing.
Unfortunately, as we have seen in sports, academics, Boy Scouts, the military, entertainment, and business, in just about every profession and walk of life, there have been scandals over inappropriate sexual behavior. So it is an ugly fact of life. We must learn how to protect ourselves, those we love, and all innocent victims. One very practical, concrete action we can take is to learn about the signs of sexual abuse and to know how to react. We can make it stop.
Fortunately, we have a good program for that, called Ethics and Integrity in Ministry (EIM). It is sponsored by the Diocese of Austin. All those who volunteer in ministry, such as lectors and Eucharistic Ministers, teachers and helpers with Religious Education and Sacramental Preparation, and even people who volunteer on boards, councils and work groups at the parish are required, or strongly urged, to complete the EIM process.
The process consists of signing up, of a having a background check conducted on you, and attending a workshop of two hours, which must be repeated every three years. The session consists of a movie that is really very good and (at least to me) interesting. I urge EVERYONE in the parish who is 18 or older to go through this program. It is very worthwhile. Knowing the signs of sexual abuse, or that there is something wrong going on, and knowing then how to appropriately react and report such observations, is critically important. You could save someone a great deal of heartache and pain.
To find out more about EIM and to sign up, the easiest way is to go to our parish website, www.staustin.org/eim and it will lead you through the steps in signing up. Or you can go to the Diocese of Austin website, www.austindiocese.org/eim.
We have scheduled EIM workshops here at St Austin for our school and our parish on August 18 and September 8. You are welcome to register and to join us. There are other workshops at other parishes around on different dates, and it does not make any difference which one you attend.
So I urge you to investigate EIM and get EIM certified. It will enable you to be a more active and responsible member of our great parish family.