Saint John’s Abbey: Safety Plans for Sexual Offenders


Monks with a Safety Plan may not have social relationships or individual contact with vulnerable persons of any age on the Saint John’s campus or off-campus, in any setting.

Webmaster’s Note: This Official Statement should be read carefully. The Abbey continues to hold itself, and its offending monks, to such a low standard of responsibility and accountability. Sadly, offending monks are failing to meet even the low expectations set by the Abbey.

Official Statements from Saint John’s Abbey
Saint John’s Abbey: Safety Plans for Sexual Offenders

Saint John’s Abbey is a member of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. On August 10, 2002, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) voted unanimously:

. To research currently available services, design needed services, and provide them to its membership to enable them to have in place a comprehensive plan to respond promptly to any allegation of sexual abuse.

. To consult with professionals skilled in the protection of vulnerable persons of any age, and to seek their guidance, especially in developing educational programs designed to prevent sexual abuse offenses by members of their own organizations.

. To provide guidelines to its membership to respond promptly to the need for more effective methods of intervention, care, treatment, and follow-up supervision of members of a religious community in need of treatment and continuing supervision for sexual abuse.

In taking this step, Saint John’s Abbey joined religious communities across the country in a comprehensive program to develop Safety Plans for religious with an established claim of sexual abuse, and to develop methods for their care, treatment, and continuing supervision. Religious communities (including Saint John’s Abbey) also agreed to abide by the Charter and Norms adopted by the U.S. Bishops in June of 2002 that called for the removal of ordained members from all ministry following a single established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

In 2003 CMSM contracted with Praesidium Religious Services (Praesidium) to develop (1) educational programs for prevention of sexual abuse, (2) a set of national standards to serve as a benchmark for the commitment to education and prevention, and for responding to allegations of sexual abuse, and (3) guidelines for the care and supervision of individual offenders in the religious community. Praesidium developed a system of accreditation for each religious organization that included documentation of the education of members and an onsite visit of each religious community.

-Saint John’s Abbey completed the onsite accreditation visit in 2008 that included a review of all allegations of abuse and how they were dealt with since June 2002. In addition, the reviewers met with each monk on a Safety Plan, the monk’s supervisor, and members of the Abbey’s independent external Review Board. In May of 2008, Saint John’s Abbey was accredited by Praesidium Religious Services, documenting that the Abbey is in full compliance with the national benchmark standards adopted by CMSM.

-Saint John’s Abbey also continued a program of education for all community members that had begun in the mid-1980s. Its purposes included making all members aware of the importance of maintaining acceptable boundaries in all ministries.

-The Abbey contracted with Project Pathfinder in Saint Paul, an organization skilled in assessing an individual’s risk of re-offending. In addition, this assessment led to the development of individual Safety Plans for each monk who has sexually abused that includes supervision and regular meetings with a supervisor. These Safety Plans are reviewed annually by external professionals and an independent, external Review Board.

-Monks who are living with a Safety Plan do so voluntarily as a condition for remaining a monk of Saint John’s Abbey. These Safety Plans are not court-ordered.

-As part of an individual Safety Plan, an ordained monk who has sexually abused a minor cannot officiate at Mass or any sacrament in public. He may not preach, teach, or associate with students, staff, or parishioners in a ministerial relationship. This restriction on ministry also applies to non-ordained monks.

-Monks with a Safety Plan may not have social relationships or individual contact with vulnerable persons of any age on the Saint John’s campus or off-campus, in any setting.

-Monks who are living with a Safety Plan are generally free to move about campus with the exception of the Preparatory School buildings, college residence halls, or swimming pool-fitness center. They are free to use the library, the bookstore, and to walk the roads and byways on the campus.

-Monks with a Safety Plan are generally allowed unescorted trips off campus, provided they inform their supervisor of their destination and return time. The supervisor has the authority to deny such a request. As a result, a monk with a Safety Plan could visit family or friends away from the campus, go for a medical appointment, or conduct other business. Monks with a Safety Plan are allowed to eat with friends and/or family members in the student dining room.

-Most Saint John’s monks on a Safety Plan are engaged in one or the other of ongoing therapy, spiritual direction, and group work, for the sake of their emotional and spiritual health.

In conclusion,

. The Abbey has worked with external professionals for risk assessment, for the creation and ongoing review of Safety Plans, and for the approval of Safety Plans. The Abbey has made a diligent and conscientious effort to supervise monks on Safety Plans.

. The Abbey’s safety program provides significantly more support and supervision of monks accused of sexual offenses than is provided for under Minnesota state law for many persons who have abused minors.

. Saint John’s takes the issue of sexual misconduct very seriously, and over many years has worked to ensure that policies and procedures on human rights are followed and enforced. Saint John’s policies are clear and longstanding: we do not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form.

Official Statements from Saint John’s Abbey
Originally posted on July 14, 2010
Saint John’s Abbey: Safety Plans for Sexual Offenders

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