The Diocese of Portland has created a 24/7 hotline to receive complaints about priests or other church employees who are accused of misconduct that violates church ethics rules.

The Rev. Robert P. Deeley, bishop of the Diocese of Portland

The reporting system is operated by an Akron, Ohio-based Red Flag Reporting and will take reports about fraud, misconduct, harassment or substance abuse among clergy, the diocese said in a statement Tuesday.

However, the system is not intended to be a way for the public to report clergy sexual abuse, the diocese said, encouraging anyone with information about sexual misconduct in the church to contact “civil authorities.”

“Several months ago, after hearing from people around the state, the diocese started the process of establishing this system for individuals to express their concerns in an easily accessible way,” Bishop Robert P. Deeley said in the statement. “The system is organized to ensure that these reports will be handled in a timely and thorough manner.”

The diocese said the company “ensures accountability at the diocesan level by overseeing the handling of each complaint,” the statement said. Posters will be placed in churches, diocesan schools and buildings with the hotline number. Complaints can be received in English or Spanish, or can be submitted online.

People who report misconduct also will be granted whistleblower protection.

Since 2002, the diocese has published a code of ethical conduct for priests and diocesan employees that bars already-illegal practices such as fraud or misuse of church funds, and includes extensive and detailed rules for how clergy interact with the public and specifically children, among a host of other topics.

“To ensure transparency and the success of this initiative, the Church needs the committed involvement of the laity,” Deeley said. “It is gratifying to report that the protocols already implemented in the Diocese of Portland regarding the safety of children, through the vigilance of both clergy and laity, have helped to make our Church a safer place for all. Since many of the procedures began in 2002, there have been no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric in the Diocese of Portland. We have similar hope for this new system of accountability.”

While the system is a step in the right direction, it does not address the fundamental problem of asking church personnel to police themselves, said Marc DuMoulin, a representative for the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.

“Finally,” DuMoulin said, of the new system. “That’s a good move for the archdiocese of Portland.”

But DuMoulin, who said he was abused by two priests in the his home country of Belgium, has lost all trust in the organization to be fully transparent with police and judicial authorities. He said church leaders in Massachusetts, for instance, are still withholding the names of abusive priests, despite releasing a partial list.

“If you put two gangsters in a room, there’s not one who’s going to report the other one,” DuMoulin said. “You cannot trust the church. I’m sorry to say it.”


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.