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Seminaries commit to benchmarks on sexual misconduct policies

John Lavenburg
CRUX National Correspondent

NEW YORK ­­– Fifteen prominent North American seminaries have committed to meeting a series of sexual misconduct policy benchmarks in hopes the move will inspire others to follow suit, and to reinforce policies already in place.

The five benchmarks were announced by the University of Notre Dame McGrath Institute for Church Life in November. Tuesday, the institute launched a website that details the benchmarks, outlines the seminaries that endorse it, and identifies the team of laity, priests and bishops that collaborated on the effort.

“[It’s important] to be proactive and not to wait for some sort of crisis or problem to react,” Monsignor Andrew Baker, the rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary told Crux. “We’ve got to have our seminarian’s safety first and foremost in our mind, and make sure that the culture and environment of seminary formation is free of sexual misconduct whether there’s a crisis or not.”

The five benchmarks are:

  • Systematic training of seminarians, faculty and staff
  • Reporting and investigation
  • Victim support
  • Proactivity in assessing the seminary’s culture
  • Consistency and portability of policies

The benchmarks stem from a 2018 national study – prompted by initial reports of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct – the McGrath Institute conducted with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, in which over 1,500 seminarians participated ...

Mount St. Mary's Vice President and Seminary Rector Msgr. Andrew R. Baker, S.T.D., served on the drafting committee for the newly published Seminary Sexual Misconduct Policy Benchmarks by the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame University. Mount St. Mary's Seminary joins a number of seminaries and houses of religious formation in its public commitment to these benchmarks. Read the full story at

John Lavenburg
CRUX National Correspondent