Promise to Protect; Pledge to Heal

“Jesus said, ‘If you remain in My Word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ We can pray that this season of suffering will become a time of truth and of clarity, so that new light will break into our darkness, and we can find a path toward healing for all members of the Body of Christ.”

A Time for Truth,
A Path to Healing

Our Church today is suffering, having been wounded not from outside, but from within. There are reliable reports of ministers violating their vows, betraying their vocations, and victimizing others. There are plausible charges that some in authority have ignored crimes, abetted deceptions, and failed in their duty to protect the most vulnerable.

The Office of Child and Youth Protection at the Archdiocese of San Francisco was established to address allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious or other people who work or volunteer for the Archdiocese. The Office is responsible for creating a safe and compassionate environment for victim-survivor to come forward, notify civil authorities and provide counseling and other assistance to support the healing process. Every allegation is treated seriously and discreetly, and immediate steps are taken to protect the confidentiality and the rights of both alleged victim-survivor and abusers.

The following questions and answers are designed to help people better understand this sensitive and serious topic. Also below is a link to a fact sheet that shares important information from our Office of Child and Youth Protection on maintaining a safe enviroment.

How to report abuse

If anyone has reason to believe or suspect there is or has been abuse involving clergy, employees, volunteers, or children attending Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, or other church-related events, those suspicions or allegations are to be reported first to civil authorities. Subsequently, they should be reported to the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, unless the report involves the Archbishop himself.

The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service has been established and was activated in March 2020 to receive reports of sexual abuse and related misconduct by bishops, and to relay those reports to proper Church authorities for investigation. Where a report includes a crime, such as the sexual abuse of a minor, it will also be reported to civil authorities. Otherwise, reports will be kept confidential. Reporting may be made at or 800-276-1562.

Sexual abuse by a priest, deacon or a staff member or volunteer of the Church should be reported to the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Rocio Rodriguez. 

Rocio Rodriguez, LMFT, Victim Assistance Coordinator
Phone: 415-614-5506
[email protected]

Every allegation will be treated seriously and immediate steps taken to protect the alleged victim-survivor(s). These actions will be taken discreetly so as to protect the confidentiality and the rights of both the victim-survivor and the alleged abuser.

State law requires people in certain positions to make such reports. These people are referred to as “Mandatory Reporters”. All other adults, called “Ethical Reporters” should also report suspected abuse.

Investigation following the report should be left to duly appointed professionals.

Instructions for Reporting Abuse

Cases of alleged abuse in which the abuser and the victim-survivor are of the same household are to be reported to Child Protective Services (CPS), while cases in which the alleged victim-survivor and the accused do not share a household should be reported to law enforcement authorities (sheriff’s department or local police).

What happens when someone reports an allegation of abuse to the Archdiocese?

Step 1

The Victim Assistance Coordinator will ask if this has been reported to Child Protective Services or the Police Department. If not, the Victim Assistance Coordinator will inform the person that the policy of the Archdiocese is to report the matter to the proper civil authorities. If the victim-survivor is a current minor the report is made to Child Protective Services if the abuser and victim-survivor are living in the same household. If the alleged minor victim-survivor and the accused do not share a household the report is made to the Sheriff’s Department or Police Department. If the victim-survivor is no longer a minor the report is made to the local District Attorney’s office (see above).

Step 2

The preliminary facts gathered by the Victim Assistance Coordinator will be referred to a qualified investigator (i.e. retired policeman/woman) who prepares a detailed report for consideration by the Archdiocesan Independent Review Board (IRB). When the preliminary investigation (e.g. the initial information gathered by the Victim Assistance Coordinator and /or the supplemental information obtained by the investigator) so indicates, the alleged perpetrator shall be relieved of active employment/ministry (placed on administrative leave) pending the conclusion of the investigation. The Archdiocesan Independent Review Board (IRB) then makes its recommendation to the Archbishop as to whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain that the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.

Step 3

The Archbishop and/or the Victim Assistance Coordinator will share the finding of the Independent Review Board and the Archbishop’s determination concerning the investigation with the alleged victim-survivor and perpetrator. In the event there is a determination that abuse occurred and the alleged perpetrator is a clergyman, he will be informed of his canonical right to request a canonical trial. If a clergyman admits that the abuse occurred, or chooses not to contest the matter, or the finding is sustained at trial then, pursuant to the USCCB document, Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal – USCCB (revised 2018), the individual will be permanently removed from ministry.

Office of Child and Youth Protection

Contact us

The Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) is a licensed therapist and can be reached directly at (415) 614-5506, a secure line. The VAC is available to help victims-survivors make a formal complaint to the Archdiocese and offers assistance with psychotherapy, spiritual direction, and referrals to other supportive services. The Archdiocese maintains a Victim-Survivor Help Line at (415) 614-5503, a secure line answered by victim-survivors.

CLICK HERE to access a list of names of priests and deacons in good standing who have faculties to minister in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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Independent Review Board

Archbishop Cordileone has identified a group of well-educated and highly skilled professionals to advise the Archdiocese on matters relating to abuse by clergy.

This group includes a psychologist (Dr. Renee Duffey), two physicians (Dr. Laura Rubinos and Dr. Kesook Lee), a retired police officer (Mr. Al Trigueiro), and a survivor (Mr. Paul Hessinger). There is a balance of men and women, and several members are also parents.

This Independent Review Board (IRB) oversees the “Safe Environment” program of the Archdiocese and has acted as a consultant to religious orders of priests. The Vicar for Clergy and the Archbishop meet regularly with this Board. The Victim Assistance Coordinator and the Diocesan Attorney serve as support staff, but are not members. They, along with the Archbishop and the Vicar for Clergy, excuse themselves during IRB deliberations on particular cases. The Chancellor (Msgr. Michael Padazinski) is a member and takes part in deliberations, but has no vote.

The Archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, Rocio Rodriguez, can be reached at 415-614-5506 or [email protected], and works with the Archbishop, the Independent Review Board and the Vicar for Clergy to coordinate support for victim-survivors and their families.

Independent Review Boards are addresed in the USCCB document, Promise to Protect; Pledge to Heal – USCCB (updated 2018), Article 2: “Dioceses/eparchies are also to have a review board that functions as a confidential consultative body to the bishop/eparch. The majority of its members are to be lay persons not in the employ of the diocese/eparchy.”

The review board, established by the diocesan/eparchial bishop, will be composed of at least five persons of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church. The majority of the review board members will be lay persons who are not in the employ of the diocese/eparchy; but at least one member should be a priest who is an experienced and respected pastor of the diocese/eparchy in question, and at least one member should have particular expertise in the treatment of the sexual abuse of minors. The members will be appointed for a term of five years, which can be renewed. It is desirable that the Promoter of Justice participate in the meetings of the review board.”
Decree Of Promulgation # 5 Of Essential Norms For Diocesan/ Eparchial Policies Dealing With Allegations Of Sexual Abuse Of Minors By Priests Or Deacons