Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, has gone on record as a critic of the current “safe environment” programs being offered by dioceses in response to the Scandal, such as “Talking about Touching” and “Good Touch, Bad Touch” and others. Rather than curse the darkness, the good bishop has decided to light a proverbial candle as described in his latest email sent out to various folks.
In brief, he is working with the Catholic Medical Association and others to craft a new program to address the shortcomings of what is available now, with the most basic goal of endeavoring to train the parents to teach their own kids, which is what the Church says we’re supposed to do in the first place.
It has been a while since I corresponded with you regarding the Safe Environment Programs which are being used throughout the Dioceses of the US. I write to give you an update, offer some hope and ask a favor.
UPDATE: In the Fall of 2006 the Catholic Medical Association issued a Report titled: To Protect and to Prevent: The Sexual Abuse of Children and its Prevention. This Report is available for purchase on the CMA website: Cathmed.org. One of the recommendations of the Report was: “We recommend that the energy and resources now directed to child and adolescent empowerment programs be refocused on the development of programs to assist parents in being the primary educators and protectors of their children.” As you can imagine this recommendation has not been accepted or acted upon by the producers of other Child Protection strategies.
HOPE: It does not appear that others will engage in the recommended work. Thus, I have been working with a small group of dedicated Healthcare Professionals and Priests to fulfill this recommendation. We have studied the issues more thoroughly and have been engaged in formulating the script and format for a 6 hour video series focusing on strengthening and reinforcing good parenting as a primary way to assure the safety of children. The proposed title of our effort might be something like: Strong Families: Safer Children. While it may be that our program will not be adopted by Bishops as the only mechanism for fulfilling the requirements of Article 12 of the Charter for the Protection of Children it is our hope that at least some Bishops will adopt this program as well as many priests in a variety of Parishes and that the families therein will be able to benefit from it.
The letter continued