One Sunday morning, when you came to Church, the bulletin would have an insert. It would contain a message and a wallet card. The message would also be run in the Ensign released at about the same time.
The gist of the message would be that the doctrine of the Church calls for those who sin to confess and make restitution. True confession, in many cases, includes acknowledging crimes to the civil authorities. With a deep understanding of the times when free exercise of religion is a crime in some societies, and a rejection of the State’s right to constrain the conscience, the experience of the Church is that sexual offenders who do not fully acknowledge the depth of their sins are cutting themselves off from repentance.
Any confession of sexual abuse, rape or predation to an ecclesiastical authority in the Church should also be understood to include both an authorization, and a requirement, that the person confessed to will do their best to aid in repentance by contacting the local criminal authorities. The Church understands that in some countries, any contact with the criminal authorities is fraught with significant issues, including loss of acknowledged religious status and the arrest and or torture of the person reporting. However, absent those considerations, reporting should be considered mandatory. [At present that means that this policy is in force for all units within the United States, Europe and Canada. It will be expanded to other jursidictions as review and due consideration are made][Reporting of sexual crimes does/does not include sex acts between adults or sexual or gender status or choices].
In those states or locations where reporting is against the law, please contact the Church authorities so that they can engage legal counsel to challenge local laws. The 1-800- number help line will be able to provide you with more information.
The front of the wallet care would have:
A President Hinckley quote about how anyone guilty of abuse is not worthy of the blessings of the priesthood or the gospel.
If you are a leader at any level who becomes aware of a reasonable likelihood of sexual abuse, call 1-800
If you are the victim, or the caretaker of a victim of sexual abuse, there is a help line, 1-800-
The back of the card would state:
The Church has adopted as a uniform procedure [for all units within the United States, Europe and Canada] the policy of reporting whenever someone becomes aware of a reasonable likelihood of sexual abuse. Perpetrators should be reported to the police and all reasonable efforts to cooperate with investigation and prosecution should be supported. Minimizing an offense, making excuses for it, attempting to protect the perpetrator only serve to enmesh those who do that as facilitators and enablers of the abuse of children and it deprives the abuser of the one chance they have to truly acknowledge the nature of their wrongs and to repent by accepting the full process of the law. It is essential for their ability to repent and seek salvation that they acknowledge their wrongs to the civil authorities. By making a confession to an ecclesiastical authority in the Church, the person confessing both authorizes disclosure to the civil authorities and recognizes that they are required to report the sexual crime.
Now, does this mean any instance of sodomy should be reported to the police? How does it get parsed and divided? Will this have the effect it would have had even ten years ago of resulting in the Church losing official status in countries that require clergy to fit within certain parameters or to be considered illegal cults? I don’t know. That is why this is a blog post and not put somewhere it would end up as a suggestion to Salt Lake.
As far as I know, since no one at the Church headquarters reads blogs like this, I’m not likely to find out the answers to those questions.
But for the areas I’m more familiar with, at least for the United States, that is what I would do.
Still working on:
- How to complain without sounding as if you are mentally ill, scripted or a problem child.
- Implications of Jared Diamond’s Collapse and doctrines of stewardship.
- The utopian elements that go into making Zion closer to us.