Glossary of Terms

Particular friendship
Language which the Church uses to discuss a sexually inappropriate relationship between persons. The term is often used to describe homosexual relationships in which clergy engage or between clergy and minors

Secret Archive
A confidential file mandated by Canon Law 489 where the details of illicit behavior, often sexual, are kept by the Church. Letters from parishioners complaining about the sexual behavior of priests are kept in this file. No one but the Bishop and his designated appointee (usually the Chancellor) have access to this confidential file

-the official record keeper or secretary of the Diocese

Vicar General
-the Bishop’s second in command who has authority to act for the Bishop in his absence or under his direction

– a free and deliberate violation of Church (canon) law to which a specific penalty is attached

– a term commonly used to refer to the sexual activity of an adult with an adolescent

-the authorization of a priest to perform certain church functions such as baptisms, marriages, etc. Permission to grant these powers are given by a bishop and restricted to a certain area, usually the diocese in which the granting bishop resides

Internal forum
-this pertains to the individual conscience wherein the person shares his/her most sensitive information with a priest who can never reveal what he has heard. Such information can never be recorded or written down. An example of this forum is the Sacrament of Reconciliation or confession.

-a term used to describe the period in which a minor is prepared for sexual contact (abuse) by an adult

a process by which every secular (diocesan) priest is affiliated to a particular diocese and owes obedience to that bishop

-the process by which a priest is allowed to live as a layperson. This may be done voluntarily or involuntarily

Mental reservation
-a tactic used by someone who one the one hand must tell the truth but is also sworn to secrecy. Catholic moral theology allows such a tactic so that the one caught between the obligations of truth and the promise of secrecy can mislead another

Pontifical Secret
the highest form of secrecy in church law. It is imposed on all who participate in the investigations of any allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest or religious

Statute of Limitations:
the time in which you can bring a claim in a court of law. Normally, the state in which the abuse occurred has a time limit in which you can bring a claim for money damages. Each state has a different statute of limitations and there are exceptions to these statutes.