Praesidium Accreditation Standards
for Catholic Religious Institutes

Praesidium Accreditation for Catholic Religious Institutes does not represent a first step or an initial handling of abuse prevention measures but rather an evolution in a long-standing effort for those Institutes to clarify their responsibilities, implement best practices, evaluate the extent to which they are meeting defined standards, and communicate to others the steps they are taking to create a safe environment for the people they serve.

The initial development of Praesidium’s Accreditation Standards for Catholic Religious Institutes© was in direct response to the following statement of the August 2002 Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) assembly:

“We believe that in most instances over this last decade, as we have learned more about the tragic consequences of sexual abuse, we have acted responsibly in dealing with allegations. But, we have also heard the clear call for more accountability and transparency in how we, as leaders of men religious, deal with the protection of children from sexual abuse by members of our institutes and how we handle allegations of sexual abuse and follow-up outreach to victims and supervision of our members charged with sexual abuse.”

The Standards are revised every four years. Feedback is incorporated from a number of sources: Praesidium’s field experience in assessing more than 100 Religious congregations worldwide and its ongoing work with numerous secular youth-serving organizations; the experiences of Major Superiors; insight from Praesidium’s Advisory Council and Standards Advisory Panel; the viewpoint of civil and canon lawyers; a perspective from Review Board members; and research from experts in various fields (psychology, social work, and law). In every review, Praesidium seeks for the Standards to further clarify the requirements, reflect developments in Church policy, and incorporate advancements in youth-serving industry standards as a whole. Following their original publication in 2004, the Standards were updated in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020.

"I am proud of the work the Catholic Church in the United States has done in the past two decades to protect the vulnerable among us, and I am grateful to have Praesidium as a partner in preventing the sexual abuse of children.  The process of accreditation makes an indispensable contribution fulfilling our promise to remain vigilant.

 - Very Rev. Christopher Fadok, O.P., Prior Provincial, Western Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus


There are a total of 20 standards which are designed for any Catholic Religious Institute or Society of Apostolic Life. Each Standard has requirements that must be implemented to meet the Standard. 

Standards for Responding to Survivors

These standards ensure that individuals who report abuse to an Institute are received pastorally and compassionately.

Standards for Prevention

These standards evaluate items such as leadership, transparency, how new members are screened, relevant educational programs for initial and ongoing formation, systems of support and accountability to ensure Members’ well-being, and how the Institute manages internal reports of concerns about boundary violations.

Standards for Responding to Allegations

These standards evaluate policies and procedures in areas such as reporting requirements, investigations, and the role of external review boards.

Standards for Supervision

These standards evaluate the effectiveness of supervision for any Members against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been established.

Praesidium’s main work is to help organizations like ours create and maintain safe environments for youth and vulnerable persons.  To this end, they have helped us improve our protection policy, our monitoring process, and our education of members and staff.  When in doubt about how to proceed with a difficult issue, a phone call or email results in wise guidance.  I am grateful to know Praesidium is there to assist me.

— Br. Jacob Kubajak, Business Manager, Conception Abbey


Standards for
Catholic Religious Institutes

Learn more about the Praesidium Accreditation Standards
and the research that supports them