Tuesday, April 8, 2014

OCA releases new background check requirements

Who is getting a background check in the OCA now? Almost everyone: "level-one background check would be required of all bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, and readers, as well as lay workers who have more than minimal contact with children. The background checks would be required at least once every three years."

  • Social Security trace / verification
  • County criminal search
  • County civil search
  • Nationwide Federal criminal search
  • Nationwide Federal civil search
  • Sex Offender Registry search
  • I-9 Verification
  • Driver’s history search
More information available here.


  1. Who is going to pay for these. The OCA is going to be broke within a few years. I have no problem with background checks and definitely wouldn't want my kids to be in contact with sex offenders but this seems a little like overkill. If they're requiring the clergy, a majority of which are already living in poverty or only a little above, to foot the bill I think it's only going to discourage potential seminarians more and help expand the shortage of clergy, or they'll all just leave for ROCOR, Bulgarian Diocese, etc.

  2. this is why i will no longer be helping in the altar

  3. I concur, this does seem like a bit of overkill. Oddly there is no mention of persons who handle money for the parish which to my mind would be an obvious candidate for a CBC.

  4. Background checks can be made quickly and discreetly; this seems like someone's unhealthy desire for public humiliation.

  5. It will be interesting to see who resigns....

  6. Like it or not, this is common for most employers that hire more than 20-30 people. Private companies already collect all of this data on us. You give them a SSN and list of past addresses, as well as a hundred bucks or so, and in a couple of days (or hours) they will email you a PDF report. The more expensive services make reference calls to past employers. Many employers will do this without telling you, although there is usually a consent form involved. I would guess that in most cases, it reduces insurance premiums enough to make up for the cost of the background checks. In the secular arena, I think quoting Johnny Paycheck would be an entirely appropriate response to this.

  7. Our Ruthenian Eparchy of Passaic requires the same already of all folks who will be working directly with children, regardless of whether they're clergy or laity. I believe the background checks are managed through their liability insurance company. We had to attend a brief training/information session at the parish, fill out some paperwork, and that was that. It is frustrating and seems overkill, but is cheap insurance with the number of folks who are willing to jump on the "sue the church" bandwagon, and it keeps the laity informed and able to take action when a real problem surfaces.

    1. And most smaller Rusyn parishes just go to the nearest Latin parish.

      I see the laudable goal behind the requirement, but I wish they had put out a little explanatory pamphlet and maybe an episcopal declaration to be read from the pulpit to explain.

    2. Right. Sadly, yes.

      Good communication is always helpful, yet seemingly impossible to grasp...

  8. Arguably there is a sincere and useful motivation underlying this move.

    If the judgment call stops with the bishop, however, I feel no innate confidence in the procedure. How often in the American jurisdictions (please note the plural) has cover-up occurred at the episcopal level?

    Most parents, and many single adults, have "more than minimal contact" with other parish children. Therefore the insanity shall have to be extended to mandate background checks of all parishioners. Why stop there, though? Send Child Protection Services after all parents, everywhere, because they have extended and extensive contact with children -- their own children.

    This is just as crazy as the news story I read this morning about the infant boy (six or seven months old) in Pakistan who is charged with attempted murder because he was present when older family members possibly used violence toward somebody.

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