The Diocese of Cheyenne (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1887, encompasses the entire state of Wyoming. It consists of 36 parishes, 42 missions, and seven elementary schools and serves a population of about 49,000 registered Catholics with 15 deacons and 46 diocesan priests. The Most Reverend David Ricken, installed as bishop in 2001, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of August 18-22, 2003.
The information presented below represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding necessary corrective 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 prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors since 1994; revised in March 2003, this policy provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. A Commendation was written recognizing the early institution of this policy. However, an Instruction was also written requiring the review of several written documents and their combination into one comprehensive policy to prevent confusion. The bishop, or his representative, have met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in this Diocese. The Diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Deacon Rolland Raboin, who has both education and experience in psychology and counseling. A diocesan review board has been established, consisting of one priest and five respected members of the community, including a psychologist and others with social work backgrounds. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. The Diocese has entered into no confidentiality agreements since June 2002, unless requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has had contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse allegations, and its policy provides for immediate reporting of allegations to the appropriate authorities. The Diocese has a procedure for advising victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual 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 all diocesan and parish personnel. The Diocese has a 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 was found not to have developed a safe environment program for presentation to parents, teachers, clergy, employees, and volunteers who have contact with children; an Instruction was written requiring the expeditious development of a comprehensive program for a safe environment. As mentioned above, 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 young people. The Diocese has completed background investigations on all members of the clergy and diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Diocese has not transferred any priests or deacons who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse lodged against them to any other diocese for ministerial assignment or residence since June 2002. The bishop and major superiors of religious orders having a presence in the Diocese have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a clerical member of a religious institute. The Diocese has not had an opportunity to cooperate with other churches, religious bodies, and institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. The Diocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and has an ongoing formation program for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Cheyenne was issued two Instructions and one Commendation.
INSTRUCTION 1—The Diocese must review the documents setting forth its sexual misconduct policy and combine these policies into one comprehensive policy.
INSTRUCTION 2—The Diocese should expedite the development of a comprehensive program for safe environments.
COMMENDATION—For having developed a policy in 1994 to address sexual misconduct.
As of December 1, 2003, all Instructions had been addressed. The Diocese of Cheyenne 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