TThe Diocese of Amarillo (“the Diocese”), which was established on August 25, 1926, now encompasses 26 counties in the panhandle of Texas. It consists of 35 parishes, 13 missions, and seven schools, and it serves a population of 49,128 registered Catholics with 51 deacons and 60 diocesan priests. The Most Reverend John W. Yanta, who was installed as bishop on March 17, 1997, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of August 18-22, 2003.
The information found herein represents conditions as they existed during the week of the audit. Information regarding the suggested corrective action taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has initiated its outreach program, which is set forth in its publication Sexual Misconduct with Minors: Policies for Education, Prevention, and Assistance to Victims and Procedures for Determination of Fitness for Ministry. The bishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse who have reported the abuse since June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is a Texas State Licensed Professional Counselor and sits as a non-voting member of the review board. Procedures for making a complaint of sexual abuse by a cleric are in place, and a Recommendation was made that the Diocese develop a printed complaint form and make it readily available and the subject of periodic public announcements. The Diocese has not entered into any confidentiality agreements with victims/survivors of sexual abuse since June 2002 unless so requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established excellent liaison with local civil authorities and is voluntarily reporting all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric regardless of when the event occurred. A procedure is in effect to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. A communications policy, reflecting the bishop’s commitment to openness and transparency regarding issues of the sexual abuse of children is in effect in the Diocese.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Diocese has participated in the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
To Protect the Faithful in the Future
The Diocese has developed a safe environment program, and training will begin in September with a general assembly of priests followed by cluster training sessions of all diocesan employees, educators, and volunteers. Publicized standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have frequent contact with children and young people, are in place. The Diocese has established procedures for checking and evaluating the backgrounds of all diocesan and parish personnel, including other independent contractors and volunteers. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another ministerial assignment. Appropriate notifications have been made to those dioceses to which retired priests having credible allegations of abuse have located. The bishop has met on various occasions with major superiors and members of religious orders present within the Diocese and has coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious institute. The Diocese has established screening and evaluation techniques for the selection of candidates for ordination.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese was issued one Commendation and one Recommendation:
RECOMMENDATION—That a printed, bilingual complaint form be developed and made available and that it be the subject of periodic public announcements.
COMMENDATION—For the thorough implementation of the Charter relative to removal of priests from ministry who are the subject of credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
As of December 1, 2003, the Recommendation had been addressed. The Diocese of Amarillo is found to be compliant with provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section 1.
The compliance audit measured activity that has occurred since the adoption of the Charter in June 2002 with the exception of certain mandated actions found in Articles 5 and 14. Actions taken by the diocese/eparchy prior to June 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons are not included in this summary report.
Office of Child and Youth Protection
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194
(202) 541-5413 | FAX: (202) 541-5410