OCA: Information on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response

OCA

The Orthodox Church in America has been working for the past several years to improve its Policy, Standards and Procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct in the church.   These updates in the policies were needed to make the institution more responsive to allegations, to give better attention to the needs of victims and to keep the OCA up to current societal standards for churches in dealing with such complaints.  While such policies are always being reviewed to meet current needs and standards, the OCA probably has some of the best policies and highest standards regarding dealing with sexual misconduct of any Orthodox jurisdiction in the world.

You can view the a new web page featuring detailed information and resources is now available at http://oca.org/about/sexual-misconduct.  The site also offers Information on the OCA’s Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA], which is responsible for assisting the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Church with matters concerning allegations of sexual misconduct.  

LOGOThe OCA’s Synod of Bishops issued a revised Policy, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct at their Fall 2013 Holy Synod meeting.  They have been engaged in a long and taxing process to improve policies, the culture and the institution.   The bishops have come to understand the importance for the entire Church to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of the faithful. The Church laments the sin of sexual misconduct, and will not tolerate sexual misconduct by its clergy or any layperson.  The more rigorous and proactive stance regarding sexual misconduct better meet the societal and legal expectations for an organization in the modern world.  Taking all allegations seriously means taking a closer look at the policies, standards and procedures of the organizations, as well as taking the time to investigate complaints brought to the attention of the church’s leaders.

One example of a more proactive approach to dealing with the social and human problem of sexual abuse is that the OCA now provides a way for people to confidentially report a case of misconduct by calling the toll-free number 855-398-2600. 

Synod2012When the Church investigates allegations of sexual misconduct, it is not attempting to replace or even duplicate investigations which might also be done by civil authorities.  The Church has its own standards for dealing with sexual misconduct by its clergy or membership.  Even the mere appearance of inappropriate sexual behavior especially by clergy is considered a moral issue within the Orthodox Community.  Our bishops have to maintain a high level of moral standards and discipline on these issues, regardless of whether civil authorities would involve themselves in the cases brought to the attention of church authorities.

Other documents and links of interest to parishes available through the OCA’s webpage:

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