Below are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding the Abuse Prevention and Response Program for the US District.
What is the SSPX Abuse Prevention and Response?
The SSPX US District is concerned about the safety of all those who are members and guests in our various organizations and institutions. We are completely committed to protecting the safety of everyone who attends our chapels, schools, camps, outings and other events. Abuse of any kind and all occasions thereof are never to be tolerated under any circumstance.
What is the history of and the relationship with the SSPX and Plan to Protect®?
While District Superior in Canada, Fr. Jurgen Wegner began looking for assistance writing Abuse Prevention and Awareness policy. After researching multiple companies, Father decided to move ahead with Plan to Protect®. They were chosen because they were known, in Canada, for having the Highest Standards for Protection and worked with a wide range of organizations. Additionally, partnering with a company outside of the Catholic Church would show that he wasn’t hiding anything. On February 25, 2013, SSPX Canada became a member and was licensed by Plan to Protect®. When Fr. Wegner became District Superior in the United States, he brought Plan to Protect® with him, and on May 9, 2016, SSPX US District became a licensed member. As of June 1, 2023, the SSPX US District is no longer a licensed member of Plan to Protect® in lieu of an independent auditor to ensure the same standards are being met.
Is the policy made available to the general public and parents?
No, our policy is an internal document meant for those working in our apostolate. We make all necessary information available and are always willing to answer questions. However, due to proprietary information associated with the company Plan to Protect® contained in the manual, the policy is not made available to the public.
Why is an abuse awareness, prevention and response program necessary in SSPX priories, chapels, and schools?
Churches and schools are a natural place of trust and, unfortunately, history has shown this makes them vulnerable to abuse. The SSPX Plan to Protect® program is intended to make our clergy, employees, volunteers and parents more aware of the warning signs of abuse and how to prevent it. Additionally, the program is dedicated to timely response and investigation to allegations of abuse in any form. In an effort to ensure everyone’s safety, all SSPX clergy, employees, and volunteers are required to be screened and trained to appropriate levels.
Who runs the SSPX Abuse Prevention and Response program for the US District?
Primarily, the SSPX Committee comprised of an SSPX priest and 4 laypeople (currently 2 men and 2 women from various backgrounds) oversees the creation and implementation of the programs and policies, as well as the training for the SSPX US District.
Who is the Director of SSPX Abuse Prevention and Response?
Mr. Deryk Petersen is the Director of SSPX Abuse Prevention and Response, US District. Deryk became the director in September of 2021 after retiring from a 27 year career as a submarine officer in the US Navy. During his career, he spent 12 years leading submarine crews conducting national security missions around the world. During the last few years, he ran a program for the US Navy in Europe and Africa working with sailors who had been victims of abuse or assault, as well as those falsely accused, providing them with reporting options, health resources, counseling, therapy and more.
Who do I contact if I have more questions?
For more information on SSPX Abuse Prevention and Response, call the APR Hotline at +1 (833) 727-7779. There is additional information available at a dedicated link on the sspx.org website or directly at: https://apr.sspx.org.
Does everyone who works or volunteers for the SSPX undergo a screening process?
Yes, for our program to be successful, all clergy, employees and volunteers over the age of 18 must undergo an extensive screening process that includes criminal background checks (done by a 3rd party organization) as well as social media and reference checks (done by the SSPX US District). Additionally, there is a motor vehicle check for any individual responsible for driving children or chapel vehicles.
Who evaluates the results of the screening process and determines if the individual is suitable for work with the SSPX?
Supervisory personnel at SSPX US District evaluate the results of the background investigation to determine one’s eligibility for work within the apostolate.
Are past mistakes held against individuals?
As a Catholic organization we obviously recognize people will make mistakes and there is never intent to cause harm, public embarrassment or to condemn someone for life who is repentant and makes amends. However, we do have a zero tolerance for convicted sex offenders, who will never be allowed to work for the SSPX in the future. All other offenses are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and approved by either the prior of the particular chapel after consultation with the US District, or in more serious cases by the US District Superior or his delegate.
What are the goals of the training?
To make our clergy, employees, and volunteers aware of the warning signs (indicators) of abuse and how to respond if abuse is suspected. The most important goal of the training is to learn how to set parameters to prevent abuse from happening.
Who conducts this training?
Training sessions are conducted by one of the trained facilitators of the SSPX US District. The facilitators have received extensive training and certification by an independent, professional organization called Plan to Protect®.
Who is required to attend the training?
All clergy, employees and volunteers working in any capacity for chapels, activities, apostolates of the SSPX must attend the training session. We hope that everyone will willingly participate and acknowledge the importance of this commitment.
After the initial training, how often are prevention methods updated?
Accusations and Allegations
How does someone make a report of abuse?
This site also allows for people to make reports using an online form or by calling a District hotline. If someone chooses to call the hotline to make a report, they will be called back within 24 hours by either a priest, a layperson (male or female) as they choose.
What should I do if I suspect abuse or have concerns regarding a member of SSPX personnel?
Any personnel of SSPX USA who have actual knowledge of or have responsible cause to suspect misconduct by any personnel of SSPX USA must report that information to the appropriate civil authorities immediately. Once reported to the civil authorities we ask that the SSPX US District be made aware of the situation as well.
What happens when a formal allegation is made?
This process is defined on this site at: https://apr.sspx.org/en/what-happens-when-formal-allegation-made
What is the Independent Review Board (IRB) and what is its function?
The IRB is a consultative body whose job it is to advise the SSPX U.S. District Superior regarding the credibility of allegations of abuse and to recommend any precautionary restrictions that may need to be placed upon the accused. The IRB serves as a way to allow the laity to assist the clergy in the process of responding to allegations of abuse.
If a priest has an active allegation against them, are they automatically removed from their office?
Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty following an administrative or judicial penal process. Should it be deemed necessary to avoid scandal, protect witnesses, or restore justice, the SSPX U.S. District Superior may place precautionary restrictions on the accused, including the prohibition from exercising sacred ministry or from exercising his office during the pendency of the investigation. In view of the presumption of innocence, every effort must be made to protect the good name of the accused during the investigation.