April 2, 2020

Amber Roseboom
Director of Media Relations
Catholic Diocese of Arlington

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month Catholic Diocese of Arlington Takes to Social Media to Raise Awareness About Protecting Children From Abuse  

Diocese Highlights Zero-Tolerance Policy on Clergy Abuse of Minors and No One 
with Credible Allegation of Abuse is Serving in the Diocese

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is mounting an awareness campaign during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, April, to protect children from abuse. As the Diocese modifies its education and awareness activities during the response to the coronavirus, all internal and external efforts will be taken online to raise awareness of the issues surrounding child abuse and how individuals can identify red flags and report potential abuse. These efforts are part of the ongoing work of the larger Church in the United States to carry out the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

“Within our diocese, we continue to work diligently to protect children from abuse in any form and in all circumstances, while constantly reviewing protocols and safeguards. Training our clergy, staff and volunteers is critical to identifying any concerning behavior and immediately reporting it. This is a duty we have as followers of Christ, to protect the vulnerable from harm. We must never become complacent in carrying out this important responsibility,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington. “I am so grateful to the staff and volunteers in our diocese, parishes and schools, for their continued vigilance in guarding against abuse. As we continue in a virtual environment during the response to the coronavirus, we are taking this opportunity to employ technology fully in raising awareness with a rejuvenated effort towards prevention.”

This April, clergy, staff and volunteers will be reminded of the diocesan protocols for guarding against abuse, including safe environments trainings and full background checks for all individuals working or volunteering with minors. Parishes and schools are being encouraged to provide relevant information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their websites and via email and to ensure staff and volunteers know how to reach the diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Young People (OPCYP) or the OPCYP Parish Liaison. Diocesan web and social media tools will be fully employed to educate the faithful on the awareness and prevention tools provided by the USCCB and how to identify and report potential abuse.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington has an extensive internal structure of safeguards in place and works to guard against abuse of a minor with unceasing vigilance. Bishop Burbidge has a zero-tolerance policy on abuse of a minor, without exception, for clergy, seminarians, staff and every volunteer in the Diocese. No one with a credible accusation of abuse against them is serving in public priestly ministry or working with youth in the Diocese. 

The Diocese is fully committed to transparency and accountability and, in February 2019, was one of the first in the country to release a list of all clergy who have served in the Diocese and have had credible accusations of sexual abuse made against them. 

The diocesan structure and policies include the below: 

Law Enforcement is Notified of any Allegation Immediately 

If an allegation is made against clergy, lay staff or volunteers, law enforcement is notified immediately, and the individual is placed on administrative leave. This commitment is in keeping with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, established in 2002.  

All Accusations Against Clergy are Brought to the Diocesan Review Board 

Each accusation of abuse of a minor by clergy is brought before the Diocesan Review Board, composed of two clergy and eight highly-credentialed lay people. Lay board members include individuals with experience serving as a U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General and Program Director for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, an FBI Assistant Director, a psychiatrist, and family service experts, to name a few. 

The Diocesan Office for Child Protection and Victim Assistance Oversees Safe Environment Programs for All Activities in which Minors are Involved. 

The Office for Child Protection and Victim Assistance has a full-time staff of seven who are assisted by 42 training facilitators and 96 parish/school/ministry liaisons. In addition to a requirement to pass two criminal background checks, the Diocese thoroughly vets clergy, staff and volunteers and trains them to identify potentially suspicious behavior and to report any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. 

Additionally, Bishop Burbidge continues to meet personally with victims/survivors of sexual abuse and their families. 

For more information, a number of resources are available at These include 1) Bishop Burbidge's Message for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Clergy, 2) Diocesan Child Protection Policies, 3) the new Norms for Bishops, 4) the list of Credibly Accused Clergy in our diocese, and 5) Frequently Asked Questions. 

We urge anyone aware of misconduct or abuse on the part of clergy or staff to notify their local law enforcement agency, as well as the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 703-841-2530. For situations involving clergy, also contact the Virginia Attorney General's Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064.

For more information, contact Amber Roseboom, Director of Media Relations, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, at 571-215-8731 or


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The Catholic Diocese of Arlington was established on August 13, 1974, and is home to 70 parishes and more than 460,000 Catholics. There are currently 276 priests serving in the Diocese and 49 seminarians discerning a priestly vocation. The Diocese has 37 parish (K-8) schools, four diocesan high schools, four independent Catholic schools and five free-standing (not connected with a parish school) pre-schools, serving more than 17,000 students.

Geographically, the Diocese includes the seven cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester and the 21 counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun, Madison, Northumberland, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Richmond, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and Westmoreland.