Protecting God’s Children

Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

A friar (“frater” in latin) denotes a male person who is a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor.  A friar may have professed temporary vows (of poverty, chastity, and obedience), renewed yearly, or have professed solemn vows (permanent, for life).  While all friars are brothers, some friars are also ordained as priests.

A child, or minor, is any person under the age of 18.

A vulnerable adult is a person who due to an impairment of mental function or physical disabilities cannot be considered an adult, and therefore would be classified as a minor under these sexual abuse norms.

The term sexual abuse of a minor refers to sexual contact between a friar and a minor. For a more expanded definition, please see our child protection policy.

An allegation is a first-person or third-party allegation of sexual abuse of a minor brought against a current friar, former friar, or deceased friar which is reported to the Province through any form of communication, including any that are anonymous or self-reported.

An allegation of abuse is deemed to be substantiated if the accused friar has admitted the abuse, there has been an adjudication in a criminal or civil proceeding that the accused friar committed the abuse, or action against the accused friar has been taken as a result of an internal/administrative investigation.

Moral certitude is the canonical standard used to guide the major superior that holds that while the decision maker recognizes that the contrary (that the allegation is false) may be possible, it is highly unlikely or so improbable that the decision maker has no substantive fear that the allegation is false.

Province Review Board is an independent board composed predominantly of lay professionals drawn from relevant fields including psychology, human development, legal practice (attorney) and law enforcement. It serves as advisor to the Provincial, the Major Superior of the Province, in the matters of sexual abuse of minors. All accusations of abuse that the Province receives are submitted to this review board. The Board offers its evaluation and advice to the Provincial. The Province Review Board also reviews Province policies to prevent abuse.  The safety plan for friars with substantiated allegations are submitted to the Review Board as well as periodic reports of those friars under supervision.

A Safety Plan is a written statement of the restrictions which a friar found to have sexually abused a minor must abide by to remain a member of the Franciscan Order and Province. While each plan recognizes factors such as age and health, all prohibit unsupervised contact with minors and any form of public ministry. For ordained friars, this means that they may not perform any priestly functions in public (i.e., their faculties are suspended). Unless new evidence would come to light that exonerates the friar, the Safety Plan applies for the rest of the Friar’s life as long as he remains a member of the Franciscan Order and Province.

Child pornography is a form of child sexual exploitation.  Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (persons less than 18 years old).  Images of child pornography are also referred to as child sexual abuse images.  Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, importation, reception, or possession of any image of child pornography.  For more information see,

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) Dallas Charter of 2002: These are the norms developed by the Bishops to guide the Churchs response to the sexual abuse of minors by Church personnel, lay, and ordained.  The Charter has undergone periodical updating by the USCCB since 2002.

Praesidium is an independent organization whose professionals audit religious institutes (as well as other youth-serving organizations) to determine whether the institutes are in compliance with all of the 25 Standards.

Instruments of Hope and Healing are Standards for Accreditation adopted by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) – a series of Standards grouped into three areas: Standards for Prevention, standards for responding to allegations, standards for supervision. Associated with each Standard are requirements that must be met for a religious institute to be in compliance.

Canon Law is the body of laws and regulations made by or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Roman Catholic Church and its members. This codex of Canon Law was most recently codified (organized into a single body of law) in 1983 and was promulgated by Pope John Paul II.

Canonical Penalties: The Catholic Churchs Code of Canon Law provides for penalties that may be imposed on members of religious communities who have been found to have engaged in serious misconduct. In particular, any religious may be involuntarily dismissed from his religious community. Those members who are also ordained as priests may have their faculties suspended” (i.e., may no longer exercise public ministry as a priest) until reinstated by the bishop; and, more seriously, be involuntarily laicized” (i.e., permanently prohibited from functioning in any capacity as a priest). Note that while sexual abuse of a minor may be the reason for the imposition of such a penalty, other serious forms of misconduct (i.e., refusal to obey a valid directive) could be the cause.

Laicized:  permanently removed from the priesthood and unable to function as a priest.  Laicization may come at the request of an individual who chooses to leave the priesthood, or it may be imposed as a penalty for grave cause.

Left Order indicates that a person has been dispensed from religious vows and is no longer a member of the Order of Friars Minor.

For more information regarding our policies, please review our child protection policy at:

Revised:  September 17, 2020