Charlotte, North Carolina
The Diocese of Charlotte (“the Diocese”), established in 1972, encompasses 46 counties in western North Carolina. The registered Catholic population of the diocese is approximately 135,000, notwithstanding an additional 120,000 to 125,000 unregistered Catholics. There are 173 diocesan and religious priests and 76 permanent deacons serving 91 parishes and schools. There are 15 elementary schools, two high schools, and one college. In September 2002, Rev. Msgr. Mauricio W. West was named diocesan administrator. The Very Rev. Peter Joseph Jugis was designated as the new bishop in August 2003 and installed on October 24, 2003. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of August 4-8, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit. Information on correction actions taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has had a sexual abuse prevention policy for victims/ survivors and their families since 1994; it was revised in July 2003 and was published in English and Spanish. The Diocese was commended for its early, proactive outreach initiatives. Three victim assistance coordinators, all certified, licensed, and experienced counselors, serve the large geographic area of the Diocese. The bishop or his designee has met or has offered to meet with victims/survivors or their families wishing to do so. A nine-member lay review board—comprising diverse, highly-qualified professionals, including two non-Catholics, a priest, and a professional counselor—has been functioning since 1995. The board has been an essential element in the development of an effective outreach program. A Recommendation was issued suggesting that existing diocesan policy and guidance for reporting allegations of sexual abuse be clarified and made more readily available. No confidentiality agreements have been entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has reported incidents to and cooperated with civil authorities. Diocesan policy directs that victims/survivors are to be advised of their right to make a report to public authorities and are encouraged to do so. Standards of ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries for clergy and other church personnel who have regular contact with children have been adopted, clearly articulated, and publicized. Diocesan policies and the Charter have been reported in the local secular media and diocesan newspapers. The Diocese has an established communications policy reflecting the bishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the 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 had established standards of conduct for all clergy, employees, and volunteers since 1994, and a safe environment training program for church workers and volunteers who have contact with children was added in 2002. The Diocese was commended for the effectiveness of its well-documented, well-monitored safe environment program, which was added in 2002. Augmenting these standards are procedures for conducting police checks, public record reviews, and limited background checks. No clergy who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a minor has been transferred or taken up residence since June 2002 away from the Diocese for ministerial or residency purposes. The Diocese employs screening and evaluation techniques in evaluating fitness of candidates for ordination. The Diocese has been in frequent dialogue with the only religious institution of men in its territory and major superiors of religious orders of men serving in the Diocese. There are extensive, layered procedures in place for promoting priestly formation.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Charlotte was issued one Recommendation and two Commendations.
RECOMMENDATION—That existing diocesan policy and guidance for reporting allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy be clarified and be made more readily available.
COMMENDATION 1— For early, proactive initiatives by the Diocese to ensure protection of children and youth under its pastoral care, including the establishment of an advisory board.
COMMENDATION 2—For a comprehensive safe environment program that includes training programs and background investigations for volunteers, teachers, employees, contractors, and clergy who have contact with children.
As of December 1, 2003, the Recommendation had been addressed. The Diocese of Charlotte is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I.
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