Buffalo, New York
The Diocese of Buffalo (“the Diocese”), which was established on April 23, 1847, encompasses eight counties in western New York. It consists of 265 parishes and 10 missions, 400 diocesan priests, 103 deacons, one seminary, seven colleges/universities, and 56 schools, and it serves a population of 709,258 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Henry Mansell, who was installed as bishop in 1995, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 8-12, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese established an outreach program in 1990 and updated the program in June 2003. The bishop, or his representative, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors in the Diocese who have reported the abuse since June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Kathryn Marsh, who is an expert in the field of sexual abuse. The diocesan review board was established on October 31, 2002, and consists of parents as well as individuals with experience in sexual abuse matters and the law. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese is committed to reporting all allegations of sexual abuse to appropriate civil authorities and to cooperating in investigations that may follow. A procedure is in place 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 and was commended for that effort. A communications policy exists that reflects a commitment to openness and transparency on matters of sexual abuse of children.
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 selected the VIRTUS program and has implemented most of the components of a safe environment program for those who regularly work with youth. A Recommendation was issued for the Diocese to quickly implement all aspects of the safe environment program. The Diocese has 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 regular contact with children and youth. In 1990, the Diocese began doing background evaluations by checking references. In 2001, full background checks were instituted for all personnel and volunteers in the Diocese. A Recommendation was made that the Diocese establish and issue a standard for background evaluations. 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, or for the purposes of residence in another diocese. The bishop regularly meets with the major superiors to coordinate their roles concerning issues of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The Diocese has not had an opportunity to cooperate with other faiths or institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. Screening and evaluation techniques for the selection of candidates for ordination are in effect and are being used. The Diocese has a systematic, ongoing formation program in keeping with the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (2001).1
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Buffalo was issued one Commendation and two Recommendations:
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese establish a standard for background evaluations.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Diocese fully implement its safe environment program in the near future.
COMMENDATION—For the Diocese’s development of an exemplary code of conduct.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations have been addressed. The Diocese of Buffalo is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 of Section I.
- USCCB, Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2001).
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