In 2003, we implemented the Safe Environment Program which includes Protecting God's Children, VIRTUS, Background Checks and the
Circle of Grace Curriculum
by the Bishop for schools and religious education.
We require all our clergy, seminarians, deacons, employees, teachers, coaches, scout leaders and volunteers to complete all the
of the diocese before they can be employed or volunteer with our children or vulnerable adults. We are very passionate about this program and feel it is very important.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in June of 2002, as part of an effort to address issues surrounding allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Clergy. Visit
for more information concerning the U.S. Conference and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
In 2001, the Diocese implemented an updated policy regarding the sexual abuse of a minor by a Catholic clergy member. Under that policy, it was decided that civil authorities will be notified of any allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor. Pending an investigation, any cleric guilty of such an act will be permanently removed from ministry.
Click here to learn more about the Diocesan policy on the
Policies Relating to Sexuality and Personal Behavior.
The Bishop has appointed Alicia Owens as the Victim Assistance Advocate. She assists victims through the complaint process, and in seeking support and counseling services. Interested parties can call 563-349-5002 or email her at
to make a complaint or seek support or counseling.
In 2003, the Safe Environment Program was developed and in compasses several areas:
- Circle of Grace Curriculum for schools and religious education
- Protecting God's Children Training and Vulnerable Adults Module (Live and online)
- VIRTUS online training
- Background Checks through Employement Screening Resources (ESR)
- Victim Assistance
In July 1, 2013 the diocese started using a new program Employment Screening Resources (ESR) to conduct background checks. No paper copies of this information will be sent to the diocese. All new people and every 5 years individuals will need to complete the background check process.
VIRTUS: Protecting God's Children
VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote "rightdoing" within religious organizations. The VIRTUS programs empower organizations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church.
The Protecting God's Children program is the VIRTUS program for protecting children from child sexual abuse. The program consists of many components. The education component helps prevent child sexual abuse by first making every adult employee and volunteer aware of the issues surrounding child sexual abuse. This includes awareness of the many ways that sexual abuse harms its victims, their families, the parish, and the community. The awareness session also helps adults learn to recognize the warning signs of abuse and shows them the appropriate way to respond to suspicious behavior. Finally, the awareness session empowers each person with five steps to help prevent child sexual abuse. Content taken from VIRTUS website - - please visit
for more information.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) - background checks:
ESR was founded in 1997. ESR is a Consumer Reporting Agency as defined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. ESR takes strong measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all personally identificable and other confidential Consumer information, including state-of-the-art security measures to protect information in all ESR systems. No consumer data of any kind is held outside of a secure location.
Background checks ordered by the diocese will check criminal history as well as the Iowa Child Abuse Registry. A credit check will be ordered on anyone working with finances.
Who is required to attend a live or online version of "Protecting God's Children" training session?
- All Clergy, employees, and host parents
- All volunteers working with children and vulnerable adults
- Scout leaders that are chartered by the parish or school
- DHS sponsored programs
- Minors are not required to do the VIRTUS training, however, they are encouraged to do so.
- Safe Environment Requirements
- Employees and volunteers can go to www.virtus.org to register for an online VIRTUS training session.
- The online training session can be taken at the person's convenience but it is required before they are employed or volunteer in the school or parish.
- For more detailed instructions on how to register in VIRTUS, please click here.
Background Check 5 year renewal and Diocesan Policy Renewal:
- When you are due for a background check every 5 years you will be required to agree to diocesan policy.
- We process all background checks via ESR
- Instructions on how to complete your 5 year background check, please click here.
Promise to Protect Pledge to Heal brochure from the USCCB