Background Screening

As Christian adults, we have a moral and legal responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional, and physical well being of children and adults. As they participate in activities within or sponsored by our diocese, schools or parishes, it is our responsibility and commitment to provide an environment which is safe and nurturing.

Because of the gravely serious nature of allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by Church personnel, it is important that all personnel be informed about diocesan policy on performing background checks, how we are working to prevent abuse, and the procedures that are followed when reports of abuse or sexual misconduct by Church personnel are received.

Who Needs a Background Check?

Background screening will include (but may not be limited to) the following people within the diocese:

  • All priests, deacons, and candidates for ordination.
  • Chancery administrative and professional staff.
  • All Catholic Charities staff, including Catholic Charities volunteers who have regular (i.e., three or more hours each month) contact with minors.
  • All Catholic Charities shelter employees and volunteers, with the exception of volunteer shelter meal providers.
  • All other paid staff members who have regular (i.e., three or more hours each month) contact with minors.
  • All coaches and volunteers who have regular (i.e., three or more hours each month) contact with minors, senior citizens, persons who habitually lack the use of reason and developmentally disabled people of the parishes and schools, including, but not limited to, volunteers in programs such as religious education, youth ministry, various youth sporting and camping activities, et cetera.
  • Note: One-time volunteers will not be subject to the VIRTUS or background screening requirements unless they participate in an overnight retreat or trip with youth. Contract employees, such as lawn mowing services, temporary office help, et cetera, are not required to be screened. However, it is recommended that parishes and schools check with contract companies to learn more about their screening practices.

You may reference this matrix table to confirm which screenings a volunteer or employee will be required to have.

All current staff and potential employees, as well as volunteers who have regular (i.e., three hours or more per month) contact with children will also undergo a Child Abuse Registry Check through the Iowa Department of Human Services.

What Information Will Be Checked

Background checks ordered by the diocese will check criminal history as well as the Iowa Child Abuse Registry. A credit check is NOT part of the normal screening process.


No person may serve with youth, children or the elderly who has ever been convicted of any disqualifying offense, been on probation or received deferred adjudication for any disqualifying offense, or has presently pending any criminal charges of any disqualifying offense before a determination of guilt is made including any person who is presently on deferred adjudication.

Disqualifying offenses are as follows, but not limited to:

  • A felony or misdemeanor classified as an offense against the person or family or involves an offense against the person or family. Offenses against the person include, but are not limited to: murder, assault, sexual assault, injury to a child, and abandoning or intentionally or recklessly endangering a child.
  • Offenses against the family include, but are not limited to: bigamy, incest, and interference with child custody, enticing a child, and harboring a runaway child.
  • A felony or misdemeanor classified as an offense against public order or indecency. Offenses against public order or indecency include, but are not limited to: prostitution, obscenity, sexual performance by a child, possession or promotion of child pornography, and disorderly conduct.
  • A felony or misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of more than six months constituting a violation of any law intended to control the possession or distribution of any substance considered a controlled substance.

Arrest leading to convictions for driving while intoxicated is NOT necessarily a disqualifying offense for employment or volunteering, but it may disqualify someone from driving a school bus, church vehicle or any other vehicle on church sponsored activities or events.

Background Screening Application

Those applying for employment or volunteer status with a diocesan entity should complete the background screening application.  Upon completion, interested parties should submit the application to the program administrator or business manager at the parish or school.

You may access the Background Screening Application in English, or Background Screening Application in Spanish and the Code of Conduct. (Section 2 of the background screening application requires acknowledgement of receipt and review of the Code of Conduct.)