"In Denver, we have had mandatory reporting and strict sexual misconduct policies since 1991, that were further strengthened by the 2002 Charter, and consistently updated every few years," the Denver archdiocese said.
It suggested that the main change required by the document is the establishment of reporting and investigating procedures for allegations against bishops. Such discussions began at the US bishops' fall assembly in November 2018, and "will no doubt be resumed at the next bishops' meeting in June."
"We would echo what Cardinal Daniel D. DiNardo has said, that we too are grateful for the opportunity to build upon the excellent foundation and existing framework already in place here in the United States," said the archdiocese.
"Protecting our children and our most vulnerable is a sacred responsibility of the Catholic Church, and the Archdiocese of Denver is committed to seeking justice and healing for survivors and to restoring the trust of people to live their faith in the Church," the archdiocese added.
It cited Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver: "May Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life guide us, and may we keep our eyes fixed on him who alone can bring healing and peace."
MacCarthy said the new norms are "a positive step forward for the global Church," adding, that there are many countries around the world with "no policies or procedures in place whatsoever."
"It is important to view this document in the context of the global Church and the impact it can have in bringing everyone up to a minimum standard," he said. "In North America, we have been deeply immersed in trying to address the abuse crisis for decades. We must remember this isn't the case in many jurisdictions and hopefully the collective effort can have an impact."
"The Archdiocese of Toronto has had a policy and procedure relating to allegations of abuse in place since 1989," MacCarthy explained. The policy has been revised multiple times, with the last revision in October 2018.
"Every employee of the archdiocese has a responsibility to report any credible allegation of abuse," said MacCarthy. "In the case of minors, our policy explicitly states that we must inform the appropriate civil authorities 'within one hour within one hour or as soon thereafter as circumstances will reasonably permit'."
The mechanism for reporting abuse and communicating with any victim is "very clear." Victims are told that going to civil authorities is always an option.
"In the case of bishops, they are subject to both civil law and canon law as they relate to the issue of abuse or misconduct," said MacCarthy, who stressed the importance of continuing education about sex abuse protection.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
"We are one of the largest groups in the country involved in police background checks and screening clergy, staff and volunteers in ministry," he said. "The more education we can do with our clergy, staff and volunteers, the more effective we will all be in ensuring that a safe environment is a priority for every parish."
In the U.S., clergy sex abuse of minors peaked in the mid-1970s before going into a long decline which some researchers say mirrors a general countrywide decline in sex abuse of children.
Father D. Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and retired Catholic University of America sociology professor, has warned that there are signs of a new rise in the rate of sex abuse by clergy and warns of possible complacency among bishops and dioceses.