The American Catholic Church in the United States | ACCUS Child Abuse Policy
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ACCUS Child Abuse Policy

From the Office of ACCUS Canon Law

On March 6th, 2002 the Presiding Archbishop of the American Catholic Church in the United States, Lawrence J. Harms, D.D. issued a statement in regards to the clerical abuse of minors which was taking place in the United States by clergy from the Roman Catholic Jurisdiction. It was also at that time an amendment to Version One of the Code of ACCUS Canon Law, was created to include a zero tolerance for abuse of a minor and that any such abuses would be handled by the civil authorities and any type of cover-up would also be grounds for civil obstruction of justice.
In 2009 the ACCUS Code of Canon Law was updated and a more rigorous abuse policy was adopted. The text below is the current ACCUS Canon Law in regards to its Zero Tolerance. (See the underlined sections).

To date the ACCUS has never had, nor has it had to dismiss a clergy or religious for abuse of a minor. The Presiding Archbishop and its Auxiliary Bishop want to make it 100% clear. The ACCUS is not under the jurisdiction of the Pope or the Roman jurisdiction.

If you have additional questions about the ACCUS and this policy please contact the Canon Law Department at

Peace be With You,
Most Rev. William A. Johnson, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop–ACCUS


Can. 727 § 1  A cleric who has offended in other ways against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the crime was committed by force, or by threats, or in public, or with a minor under the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants.

§ 2  The American Catholic Church in the United States shall have, and does herewith state that it does have, a Zero Tolerance for any of its clergy or religious who abuse any persons, especially minors in any way: sexually, physically or emotionally. The Synod of Bishops of the ACCUS has adopted this policy and will enforce it throughout the jurisdiction of the ACCUS without exception.

§ 3  The ACCUS formally charges its priests, deacons, bishops, religious and candidates for Orders to report to competent local authority(s) any suspected instance where any person, most especially children are being abused: sexually, physically or emotionally, in all instances where this knowledge is known to them in a public way.

§ 4  Priests or Bishops who have knowledge of abuse known to them from within a Sacramental forum, that is, known to them through the Sacrament of Penance, must maintain the absolute private and sacred nature of the Seal of Confession. The Sacramental Seal of Confession must be maintained inviolate; nothing heard or learned of within the Sacrament may be repeated.

§ 5  Any cleric (deacon, priest, and bishop), religious or candidate for Orders, who is accused by competent civil authority of molesting any person, especially a minor, in any way, will be immediately suspended from ministry pending the review and resolution of these charges by competent civil proceedings.

§ 6  Any cleric, religious or candidate for Orders, who is found guilty by competent civil proceedings of abusing any person, especially a minor, will be permanently suspended from ministry and defrocked by the ACCUS. No recommendation to another church jurisdiction will be given without including these facts.

§ 7  No person known to the American Catholic Church in the United States to have been found guilty by competent civil proceedings of molesting any person, especially a minor will be accepted into the ACCUS as a cleric or religious.