Any form of sexual misconduct is sinful in the eyes of God. Certain forms of sexual misconduct can be criminal as well.
Church Personnel who engage in any form of sexual misconduct are violating the ministerial relationship, misusing their authority and power, and taking advantage of the vulnerability of those they meet. In these circumstances there is an absence of meaningful consent to any sexual activity, even if the person is an adult. It is the responsibility of Church Personnel to maintain appropriate emotional and sexual boundaries with those with whom they work or serve.
While it is not possible to identify every form of inappropriate conduct that violates a person’s boundaries, based on the foregoing, it is inappropriate for Church Personnel to:
- perform any type of sexual act with anyone.
- give inappropriate gifts (such as lingerie).
- threaten or cause personal harm or injury.
- threaten or cause damage to property.
- smoke or encourage smoking on any diocesan property, school or entity.
- observe someone undressing while he/she is changing clothes at school, a sporting event or retreat other than necessary supervision in a locker room or approved changing area.
- denigrate or verbally abuse any person.
- provide medical advice, or medical procedure unless properly authorized or are required by law.
- administer drugs, including over-the-counter medication, in the absence of express written permission.
- provide massages or other physical therapy.
- examine the genitalia of any person, for any reason.
- touch an individual inappropriately.
- use the internet for pornographic* access.
- use pornography or participate in any acts of pornography involving adults or minors.
- show sexually suggestive objects or pornography.
- tell tales of sexual exploits, experiences or conflicts.
- make sexual propositions.
- use sexual vulgar language.
- offer a prolonged hug when a brief hug is customary behavior.
- kiss on the lips.
- invite children and young people to their home unsupervised or for overnight stays, even with the permission of the parent or guardian.
- offer children and young people rides to their homes, even with the permission of the parent or guardian.
*According to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the federal legal age for defining child pornography includes pornographic images of minors under the age of eighteen.
(We recognize some of these restrictions would not apply due to marital status.)
Behaviors that may indicate poor boundaries:
- Over investment in children
- Over identification with children
- Failure to set appropriate limits with children
- Excess animation around children
- Indications of anxiety regarding adult sexuality
- Overly anxious in interviews or under supervision
- Success in getting around the rules
- Lack of meaningful, in-depth relationships with adult peers
- No sense of responsibility for one’s actions
- Keeping secrets with children
- Allowing special relationships with individuals
- Allowing individuals to break some rules
- Gifts to individual young person