Abuse/Canon Law

Hi there,
I am wondering if there is anything in Canon Law regarding abuse and Young Adult ministers. My friend has been “abused” by several YA ministers and members including the YA Director because of his disability and that “he should go back to his home parish” as well as locking him in the basement one time as a “joke”. The YA Director did an “investigation” but the result, unsurprisingly, was that a specific minister who started the whole “abuse” was not in the wrong. However, there is evidence where the YA Director could be in collusion as many of the YA ministers are friends on Facebook with other members of my friend’s group except for my friend himself. Does Canon Law say anything about this.

I don’t know if Canon Law speaks of anything regarding this situation, but this needs to be brought up to a priest in the parish. This is unacceptable behavior.

Priests have been notified but they are siding with the YA Director and even the Vicar General refuses to see my friend about the problem.


You use the term “abused” in quotes. We do not know what that means. You’ve posted this a number of times. We cannot help you here.

I am sorry that your friend was locked in a basement. This sounds like high school, not adult, behavior.

I would suggest your friend stay away from these people.


Your friend should report the conduct of those in the employ of the parish to the pastor or contact the diocese, and what the abuse consist of.

If your friend would like to file a complaint with the police regarding these people, he should do so,

We have told you he needs to report this to his diocese on other threads. Yet you keep posting this same thing over and over. I have to wonder why.

I’m not sure if this is addressed in Canon Law, but if your friend has a complaint about this “abuse” [using your own quotes to describe it], then the proper manner of handling it is to first approach the Priest and bring the complain to him. [This should be done in writing, but also in person.]

If the situation is not handled as it should be by the Priest, the next step is to contact the Bishop, in writing, describing as succinctly as possible what happened and the meeting with the Priest, and include the letter written to the Priest. If it is not addressed within 2 months from the date of contacting the Bishop, then another letter, with the other letters [to the Priest and Bishop] should be sent to the Papal Nuncio for the US.

Handling it in this way adheres to the hierarchy of the Church and to the prescription in Scripture which Christ gave us: “when your brother sins against you…”. Your friend has already satisfied “tell it to your brother, and if he does not listen…” part, evidenced by the “investigation” that occurred.

Then perhaps you have been misled regarding the facts of the situation.

I am not trying to call anybody out on it. So any moderators seeing this, please keep it in mind and not block me for this post.

Employment of the word abuse in English, especially in the context of North America, has a very severe and all but univocal connotation. I would urge the original poster to choose his or her words very carefully.

If you are alleging that a person with a disability has been abused, that allegation needs to be reported to law enforcement immediately and neither this forum nor any ecclesiastical apparatus is the venue for its adjudication.

If what you are saying is that a disabled person has not been given the proper pastoral care by one who has pastoral care and governance, that is a different issue and you have done a great disservice to term that “abuse”.

The Code of Canon Law does, of course, prescribe how the various members of the Church are to interact and to receive the benefits of being part of the Church – pastoral care, the sacraments, and so forth. It also stipulates, however, what constitutes one’s canonical parish, which often seems to have inadequate meaning to American laity.

As it is, you have formulated a question that is so vague and indeterminate that I cannot answer it, in so far as it concerns the Code.

Each diocese in the United States has a Safe Environment Coordinator. That person should be contacted to initiate an internal investigation and resolution for any issue that falls below the threshold of involvement by law enforcement.

If the disabled person in question believes s/he has been treated in a manner not in keeping with their dignity, then I would suggest that the Safe Environment Coordinator would be an effective advocate on their behalf, so that their concern may be addressed with the seriousness that it merits…by the parish priest, the vicar general and the diocesan bishop.


We will talk to the Safe Environment person first thing in the morning via email. It started out as a refusal to give some accommodation at mass for my friend by playing music that he is more comfortable with to insults and having his altar server role reduced.

Uh, no, about the music. He doesn’t get to decide what music gets used. That is a ridiculous request. Sorry to have to tell you that, but the music ministry or director and the priest decide, not the parishioners, and certainly not one single parishioner.

That isn’t abuse.

Perhaps an insult was perceived, but I find it difficult to see how not playing music the person is “more comfortable with” and whether nor not he is selected as a server constitutes “abuse”.

You and he clearly think something is there, but your pastor does not and if it is about music at mass and altar serving I can see why he doesn’t.

First, “talk” means have your friend get a meeting and speak in person. Your friend is the one making the accusations; he needs to be the one making the complaint, in person. E-mail is not the medium for making serious complaints.

If he was asked to provide music for Mass, he has to follow the guidelines for music at Mass. I have no idea how music can be “comfortable” either more or less.

If there were other members of the group who wanted to serve and were qualified to serve at the Altar then he needs to share the responsibility with them. He can’t assume that he can keep the same rotation forever.

Let’s say some of the Diocesian leadership including the Worship Director has been using songs at the Mass that do not follow Pope Benedict’s statement on music for the Mass and music for concerts. Also, the current choir director has not even heard of the Vatican II part where the Latin chant has pride of place.

And is it his role to instruct them? His role is that he can make suggestions to the other music leaders, but if the pastor of the parish approves of their choices, he can’t accuse them of abusing him. They simply disagree with him. Disagreement isn’t abuse, even if you happen to be the one who is correct.

What you describe is NOT “abuse” in any way.

Your pastor is the head of liturgy at your parish. You might not like his choices, but you aren’t going to like a lot of things in life as you get older.

I reviewed your posting history and just a few short years ago you were complaining that the parish STOPPED using “On Eagle’s Wings” and other such songs and STARTED using Latin and chant.

This whole thing is fishy to me. If your pastor has heard your concerns and taken no action, crying “abuse” is not the way to go. Sometimes you just don’t get your way. You need learn to live with that.

You are not the liturgy police. You are not in charge. Until your bishop commissions you to run things at your parish, I suggest you stop this “abuse” accusation. It is a serious accusation, and from what I can see has no basis in facts.

This is a different parish than the one that switched from Eagle’s Wings to Chant. Also, others in the parish are facebook friends with some of the leadership but when my friend tried to add the leadership, they blocked him. Doesn’t that set off some alarms? Also, kicking my friend out for being conservative? And also, we do not have a pastor at the church we are talking about in this post as this is a college Newman Center.

Again, unless they’re playing music with Satanic lyrics or something, it is not your friend’s place to decide on music.

No-one (Benedict 16 included) has ever said that we must use Latin chant, any more.than that we must say the Mass in Latin.

I was not suggesting a switch to full out Latin. However. there is gonna to be NO MORE POSTS on this matter.

My point is, first you were unhappy a parish was using Latin and chant, now you are unhappy a parish is NOT using Latin and chant. In neither case was it up to you!

No. Who I’m friends with on Facebook is my business, who any person is friends with is their prerogative. Your friend has no canonical right to Facebook friends. And if someone were going around accusing me of “abuse” I would block them too.

That’s an opinion not a fact. It sounds to me, like I have said on your other 5 threads on this topic, there is more here than you are saying. You really want people to tell you that you are right and everyone else is wrong. We cannot and will not do that, because we don’t have facts we just have your story.

If multiple people in the parish and diocese have looked into it and found nothing there-- maybe that’s because there’s nothing there.

The bishop has put a priest in charge of the center, either full time or as part of his other duties wherever those are. Whoever that is has authority.

As Christians you are call upon to love one another as brothers and sisters by Jesus himself. Any form of abuse is un-Christian and I say this as a former Christian who left the faith because it did not practice what Jesus preached.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.