Vigilance Update April 2020
By Most Reverend George J. Lucas
Diocese of Lincoln
April 29, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Last April, Bishop Conley shared with all of you a plan to “Build a Culture of Vigilance” and released the names of clergy who had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse against minors and young adults.
The purpose of my letter is to update you on the diocese’s efforts and share the findings related to an investigation into the actions of Monsignor Leonard Kalin while he was diocesan vocation director and chaplain at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Newman Center. It also includes a brief update on our safe environment policies, and on the priests who are on leave.
This is an important next step in strengthening trust with all of you. While Bishop Conley is on medical leave, I believe it is important to provide this update now. I have spoken to Bishop Conley and he is aware of this update. I am committed to continued communication about all this work in the hope of healing wounds and strengthening our faith as we move forward together.
Investigation Findings of Monsignor Leonard Kalin
The investigation of Msgr. Leonard Kalin was a result of allegations made in 2018 of his misconduct while he served as the diocesan vocation director and chaplain of the Newman Center from 1970-1998. Although Msgr. Kalin died in 2008, Bishop Conley believed it was important to have an independent third party investigate the allegations. A public announcement of this investigation was made and people were invited to contact the investigator, Tom Gorgen, a licensed a private detective. The investigator conducted 35 in-person interviews and reviewed records and documents. His findings are reflected in this letter.
The primary allegations centering on Msgr. Kalin included his leadership style; sexual advances towards college students and seminarians; his use of cigarettes and alcohol as well as frequent trips to casinos to gamble; promoting a homosexual culture at the Newman Center; and that the Diocese of Lincoln Chancery was aware of Msgr. Kalin’s behavior but failed to take timely and appropriate corrective action.
The findings indicate that Msgr. Kalin did often smoke, drink and take gambling and other trips while serving at the Newman Center, and he often invited seminarians and college students to partake in these activities and travels.
The investigation did not find there was a culture of homosexuality at the Newman Center. The investigation did reveal that Msgr. Kalin did on occasion make sexual advances toward some seminarians and college students. The findings also revealed that Msgr. Kalin’s leadership style was demanding and authoritarian which some of the interviewees described as “old-school” and “my way or the highway.” Interviewees acknowledged that he did, on occasion, publicly criticize seminarians.
Finally, the investigation did find the Diocese of Lincoln Chancery leadership was aware of the culture of socializing, and alcohol and cigarette use at the Newman Center. However, no information or facts discovered during the investigation support the allegation that the Chancery leadership knew of sexual impropriety by Msgr. Kalin prior to 1998. When this activity was made known, he was put on restrictions and moved out of the Newman Center.
Despite Msgr. Kalin’s many positive contributions to build a faithful community at the Newman Center, the investigation findings regarding his wrong and inappropriate conduct are disturbing and painful. The exercise of power and authority that leads the faithful to act in a sinful way never should be tolerated. For the harm that has been done, I offer a sincere apology on behalf of the diocese.
I shared the results of the investigation with some key individuals in advance of this public acknowledgement. I have also reached out to former seminarians and college students who studied and worked alongside Msgr. Kalin at the Newman Center, as well as those who participated in the investigation. I am aware that some of those interviewed had very positive experiences to report about their interactions with Msgr. Kalin, and others did not. I recognize the sacrifice made by all who took the time to talk to the private investigator, and what was, for some, the pain of opening old wounds. I thank them for their courage and willingness to share their experiences.
Anyone affected by their experience with Msgr. Kalin and needing assistance should contact the Diocese of Lincoln to receive appropriate assistance and counseling to promote healing in their lives. Anyone who has experienced hurt in the Diocese of Lincoln because of misconduct should contact law enforcement. After contacting law enforcement, they may also contact Jeff Hohlen, the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Lincoln at 402-613-2488 or email@example.com.
Update on Safe Environment policies
In April 2019, we published new Safe Environment policies intended to instill watchfulness and attention to the issue of sexual abuse, grooming behaviors and keeping our parish and school communities safe environments for children. They make clear that the diocese enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to child sexual abuse by its clergy, employees, and volunteers. All allegations of sexual abuse of minors will be reported to law enforcement.
Since then, steps have been taken to further refine and codify our processes. This includes:
In addition to the Diocesan Review Board, we have created a Ministerial Conduct Board. The Ministerial Conduct Board serves to evaluate claims of inappropriate priest conduct that do not pertain to allegations of sexual abuse of minors. While they remain two separate entities, they are comprised primarily of the same members to ensure consistency in the evaluation of any new allegations.
A Clergy Code of Conduct was developed and distributed to priests to provide further clarification on behavioral expectations of the clergy.
Two priests have been assigned as servant ministers for the Diocese of Lincoln. They are appointed to help priests through guidance, encouragement and assisting them in finding resources or programs to help with personal and professional growth.
Update on Priests
Since the summer of 2018, some diocesan priests have been placed on administrative or personal leave for misconduct, alcohol dependency, or vocational struggles. In conversation with Bishop Conley prior to his temporary leave on December 13, 2019, I agreed to work on the resolution of the status of priests who are on administrative leave. My intention is to work steadily through these cases and bring closure to them all, at the earliest date possible.
These updates are provided to help foster a spirit of transparency and communication in the Diocese of Lincoln. Please join me in praying for the healing and peace that Jesus desires for us in the Church. Join me, too, in asking the help of the Holy Spirit to live and teach the gospel without compromise, as we look to a future full of hope in the risen Lord.
With best wishes and prayers, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend George J. Lucas
Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Lincoln