The Safe Environment Program of the Diocese of St. Augustine has been in place in one form or another since 1988 when Bishop John J. Snyder formed a Diocesan Response Team and, in 1998, a policy for fingerprinting to conduct criminal background checks for all clergy, religious, and diocesan personnel who serve in the diocese. The Safe Environment Office oversees the screening of church personnel, VIRTUS education training, policies, guidelines, victim advocacy, and resources.
In Dallas, 2002, at their annual meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops drafted a landmark document in response to the crisis of sexual abuse of children and the church. This document, setting forth their agreed upon responsibilities in combating the problem, is entitled the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The Charter is a comprehensive set of procedures originally to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.