NEW YORK – The implementation and enforcement of the Policies for the Safety of Children and Youth took another step forward towards the goal of ensuring that every ministry and event is physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe and healthy for the children of all Greek Orthodox Churches in America.
In 2009, the Youth Protection Manual was unanimously supported and approved by the Holy Eparchial Synod for the physical and spiritual protection of the children of the Archdiocese. In the 2009 letter of endorsement it states, “we believe that a safe environment is essential for the spiritual formation and learning we strive to achieve through our camping and retreat programs.”
In 2018, the Holy Eparchial Synod, the Archdiocesan Council and the national Clergy-Laity Congress approved a more comprehensive manual or guide known as the Policies for the Safety of Children and Youth.
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America stated, “as we begin this new Ecclesiastical New Year, it is a time of hope and diaconia. A time when we ask ourselves and ask the Lord, ‘How can I best serve my family, my Lord, and His Great Church’?”
Archbishop Elpidophoros called the Greek Orthodox faithful of America to action, and encouraged all the faithful to mobilize in the service of the children and youth of our Holy Church in order to implement a new set of procedures and requirements approved by the Archdiocese’s clergy and laity to improve the environment of safety for the children in our Church programs. Archbishop Elpidophoros further stated, “the new policies require that every single person who works in your Church, your Metropolis and your Archdiocese with youth in any way must move rapidly into compliance.”
During the month of September the process commences for all clergy and all youth workers to register with the Parish Administrator at all parishes, and to be trained by on-line courses. They must also pass a criminal background check. Under this new mandate of the Church, unless a worker completes this process by the end of this year, he or she cannot be allowed to work with parish youth. Many religious and charitable institutions have been doing training and background checks for years. Now in this new Ecclesiastical New Year, the Archdiocese joins them in better training and screening for youth workers and educators in order to identify abuse before it happens and protect the community’s children and its future.
Every Metropolis and parish will shortly be in touch with all its ministries to assist them in being in full compliance by the end of this year.