A lay apostolate is an organised body, made up from lay people and consecrated religious who exercise a ministry within the Catholic Church. These organisations cooperate with Church authorities. Canon 676 states: Lay institutes, whether of men or of women, participate in the pastoral function of the Church through spiritual and corporal works of mercy and offer the most diverse services to people. They are variously called oblates, third order members, associates, lay associates, lay members or some other suitable title (cf c.303).
The Bishop should be aware of and give permission to all apostolates and agencies for ministry with children within the Church body. Such permission should be subject to the Bishop being satisfied that all necessary child safeguards and adequate insurance are in place. The general principle is that the obligation to comply with requirements relating to insurance and child safeguarding rests with the group ministering within the Diocese, and not with the Diocese; however there may be exceptions to this principle. In order for the Bishop to be satisfied that appropriate child safeguarding policy and practice and adequate insurance are in place, the Safeguarding Committee, as part of the annual audit, should establish what agencies and apostolates are ministering with children in or on behalf of the Diocese and compile a register with details including:
• Name of the apostolate
• Ethos of the apostolate
• Is this an apostolate of the Church and under the governance of the Bishop
• Whether this apostolate is affiliated to a national organisation
• Name of lead person
• Whether the apostolate has a child safeguarding policy in place
• Whether the apostolate has appropriate insurance in place; if yes the following details are required:
– The name of their insurers;
– The policy number;
– The period of cover of the policy;
– The limit of indemnity.
Groups that are part of a National Organisation
It is the responsibility of any lay apostolate which conducts ministries involving children to ensure that it complies with all applicable child safeguarding and protection legislation and guidelines.
- The lay apostolate should have their own child safeguarding policy and procedures for the ministry they are running. They are also responsible for liaising with Tusla, to ensure that the policy and procedures meet the statutory requirements.
• The lay apostolate is also responsible for its own insurance.
• If the lay apostolate does not have its own insurance or safeguarding policy in place, then a letter from the Bishop should be forwarded to the leader asking them to cease all ministries with children.
• If the lay apostolate has insurance but does not have a safeguarding policy, advice on how to develop a policy should be sought from Tusla prior to the Bishop agreeing to accept them for ministry in the Diocese.
• If the lay apostolate is ministering on behalf of the Diocese then a written agreement should be made that the Apostolate will follow the Church’s child safeguarding policy
• If the group has its own safeguarding policy and is not ministering on behalf of the Diocese then they should complete S4.28. Based on this information the Bishop will decide whether to grant them permission to minister.
Groups that are not part of a National Organisation
• If the lay apostolate is not part of a national organisation and has its own safeguarding policy and insurance in place, then they should complete S4.28. Based on this information the Bishop decides whether to grant them permission to minister.
• If the lay apostolate is not part of a national organisation and does not have a child safeguarding policy in place, the Bishop then has three choices:
I. The Safeguarding Committee could recommend to the Bishop whether the ministry is appropriate and that the Bishop should consider including the organisation as part of the ministry of the Diocese, which means they would follow the safeguarding policy and procedure of the Diocese and be covered under its insurance. If the committee has any concerns about the ministry, but believes that the Bishop should include then within diocesan ministry, then the leader of the group should be contacted to establish if, through training and support, the standard of child safeguarding practice can be improved.
II. The Safeguarding Committee could recommend to the group leader that they develop their own safeguarding policy and procedures and complete S4.28. Once that is completed the Bishop could consider allowing the group permission to minister.
III. If the Safeguarding Committee determines that the ministry is not in line with the ethos of the Diocese, and/or the practice falls short of the expected child safeguarding standards, they should recommend to the Bishop that a letter is written to the leader asking them to cease all child related ministry in the Diocese.
External organisations that offer advice and support regarding child safeguarding policies
The following organisations may prove helpful in providing training and assisting external groups to create their own safeguarding policy.
• Tusla Information and Advice Officers http://www.tusla.ie/children-first/roles-and- responsibilities/organisations/children-first-training
• Barnardos http://www.barnardos.ie/what-we-do/training/training-and-consultancy.html
• National Youth Council of Ireland http://www.nycitraining.org
• Dublin Rape Crisis Centre http://www.drcc.ie/training-and-development