Diocesan ethics courses


I am trying to pin down the correct requirements for these courses. The course itself seems to be labeled differently in other Dioceses in my state. A certificate is granted after a course and background check. I have heard said it is for any clergy, religious, employee or volunteer. But on diocese websites it narrows it down to those who will be working with minors or vulnerable adults. Does that mean any and all volunteers say, a lector, must apply for a certificate? If it only applies to those working with minors such as catechists or vulnerable adults like the elderly, can a parish require it of any and all volunteers? What it said is different than what diocese require in writing.


You must be talking about something like VIRTUS, or Safe Environment classes.
They are required in every Diocese for those working with children or vulnerable adults. No, lectors do not have to do them. Money counters, no. Church cleaners, no.
EMHC to the homebound? Yes, Catechists? Yes,
Stephen Ministry, GriefShare ministry? Yes.
ANYONE can take the classes. But some volunteer work does not require it.
Most volunteers in the parish will receive a background check though. that’s different and separate, determining a criminal history and influencing a person’s eligibility to volunteer, .
*I’ve never heard it called “Ethics” class. *
There may actually be a class in Ethics offered at your chancery, but the Safe Environment courses are mandated due to events in the past, for the protection of everyone involved,
In our parish, Lectors are exempt.


In addition to the excellent answer that pianistclare has given, yes, a parish can require any training they want for volunteers.

While the US bishops conference mandates specific types of training when working with children, that does not mean that a parish is limited in who they require to take the training as long as they meet the minimum requirements set forth by the USCCB or their diocese. If they require all volunteers to complete safe environment training that is well within their rights.


Many parishes and Catholic organizations require every volunteer to complete safe environment training and criminal background checks. I think it’s a wise idea.


Okay yes, that makes sense. Now, I guess I have to check to see how well the diocese protects the information they gather. Registration/enrollment/ application process is all online :frowning:

All this to be able to read from the Bible at church. Now I know why so few volunteers :frowning:
Was this a reaction to the clergy scandal? So all laity who serve must be checked out? They require more than a normal job application, I might as well get paid :stuck_out_tongue:


For the most part that is the case, but it’s not just clergy that were the problem and hence the reason it is extended out to anyone that is involved with vulnerable populations.

If it makes you feel better, I had to take (and pay for) a 4 hour psych evaluation as part of the application for the permanent diaconate. This was before I was accepted or began the 5 years of formation. If all goes well, it’s for me to be an unpaid volunteer for 20+ years and I still have to do the training every year. :smiley:

Again it really depends on the parish and diocese. Many just require it of all volunteers so that they have a consistent process instead of having to say “Oh you were a reader, but now want to teach a bible study. Lets see if we have your training on file.” It just makes it easier since many volunteers are involved in multiple areas and have the potential to come into contact with children. In my parish sacristans and lectors have to have the training because they are often in sacristy with underage altar servers.

In addition I think many parish find it a good idea for many people to be aware of abuse and grooming behaviors even if they don’t regularly work with kids. For example, if you are in the office and a DRE takes a child into their office by themselves and closes the door you should be aware that it’s not okay and know what to do even if you personally don’t work with kids. The safest thing for kids is for multiple people watching out for them.


Yes, although DRE’s know better.
Children are dealt with in public areas or with at least 2 adults present.
Our Pastor won’t even hear a child’s confession or teach a person with cancer in his office. He moves to the larger meeting room with windows.


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