The Archdiocese of Cincinnati (“the Archdiocese”) was founded as a diocese in 1821 and elevated to an Archdiocese in 1850. It serves a Catholic community of 515,000 located in 19 counties in southwestern Ohio. There are 209 Diocesan priests, 142 permanent deacons, 112 elementary schools, 22 high schools, four colleges and universities, and one seminary. The Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, who was elevated from Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop in 1982, leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit was conducted during the period June 30 –July 3, 2003. After completing the audit it was determined that certain information relevant to compliance with the Charter had not been provided. A second audit was conducted from November 10-11, 2003 to ensure that an accurate evaluation of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was completed. The following describes conditions evident during the audits. Information on corrective actions taken by the Archdiocese will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati issued its first sexual abuse prevention policy in 1993 entitled Decree on Child Abuse. It was subsequently revised and renamed the Decree on Child Protection in 1998. In 2003, the policy was again updated to conform to the Charter. Arch-bishop Pilarczyk, or his designee, has met, or offered to meet, with victims/survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese since adoption of the Charter. Fr. Christopher R. Armstrong, who served as chancellor until June 30, 2003, and Fr. Joseph R. Binzer, his successor, were designated to provide pastoral care and support for persons abused by clergy. It was recommended that the archbishop review the chancellor’s normal responsibilities and his Charter-related duties for potential conflicts, and that the archbishop consider establishing a separate victims’ advocate position. A seven-person review board, established in 1993 and comprised of respected professionals, is available to provide consultative assistance to the archbishop. A recommendation was issued to document the role of the review board, response teams, and other resources in order to improve the overall quality of response to allegations of clergy misconduct. The Archdiocese has not entered into any confidentiality agreements since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
There is a procedure in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations to civil authorities. The Archdiocese has virtually no direct liaison with local civil authorities, particularly those in Hamilton County. The Hamilton County attorney has presided over a protracted grand jury inquiry of the Archdiocese. As such, relations between the Archdiocese and the district attorney’s office have been strained, and, for the most part, handled by outside counsel or through written correspondence. Due to pending grand jury subpoenas and the desire not to interfere with ongoing civil action, the Archdiocese has not initiated any preliminary investigations or canonical proceedings, with the exception of one situation. Consistent with the limits of civil due process, the Archdiocese has attempted to be as transparent as possible in communicating with the public through the archbishop and the communications director.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese, at the time of the audit, had not yet participated in the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. An Instruction directed timely compliance with this requirement.
To Protect the Faithful in the Future
The Archdiocese has an organized, ongoing safe environment program, which includes the use of an orientation video to complement the archdiocesan Decree on Child Protection. Necessary background evaluations, to include fingerprinting, are conducted on all personnel who have regular contact with children and young people. When the opportunity arises, Catholic school administrators have collaborated with their public school counterparts in developing and implementing safe environment programs. The Archdiocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination. Since the adoption of the Charter, no priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual abuse of a minor has been transferred or taken up residence outside of the Archdiocese either for ministerial or residency purposes. One cleric now living out of state is not in active ministry and the bishop of that diocese has been advised of his status. The Archdiocese has an ongoing formation program for priests.
Results of the Re-Audit
Following the initial audit, additional information surfaced regarding clergy who were not removed from ministry but against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse had been made. These were not specifically identified or brought to the attention of the auditors at the time of the first audit, thus calling into question compliance with the Charter. As a result, a subsequent audit, primarily limited to Article 5, was undertaken.
During the initial audit, the Archdiocese indicated that eight priests had allegations of child sexual abuse against them. Four of those priests had been removed from ministry prior to June 30, 2003, and four had been reinstated to ministry a number of years ago. During the re-audit, an additional five priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse against them were identified to the auditors. This totaled 13 credibly accused clerics. Regarding the priests who were newly identified, one of them had been removed from ministry in 2002; a second had resigned from ministry in the early 1990s. For a third priest, the first credible allegation was received by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in mid-July 2003, after the initial audit had been completed. The fourth and fifth priests had retired from active ministry many years before. After the additional information was revealed, the review board evaluated the cases of the 13 clerics and recommended the immediate removal of all who were in ministry. The archbishop implemented the review board’s recommendations and, there are currently no priests or deacons in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse lodged against them.
During the re-audit, the auditor made several attempts to contact the archdiocesan outside counsel, as well as an assistant Hamilton County attorney without success. Shortly after the re-audit, on November 20, 2003, the archbishop submitted a no-contest plea in Hamilton County Court on behalf of the Archdiocese, for failure to report sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of the audit on July 3, 2003 the Archdiocese was issued two Instructions and two Recommendations.
INSTRUCTION 1—The Archdiocese shall review existing policy regarding the acceptance of anonymous reports of incidents of sexual abuse of minors.
INSTRUCTION 2—The Archdiocese shall participate in the research study on the "nature and scope" of the problem of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Archdiocese document the role of the review board, response teams, and other resources in order to improve the quality of consultative advice.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Archdiocese review the chancellor’s current Charter-related duties and consider reallocating several of his major tasks, and consider the establishment of a separate victims’ advocate or victims’ assistance coordinator position to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
As of December 1, 2003, all Instructions and Recommendations had been addressed. The issues of reporting allegations of abuse to authorities and removing priests from ministry were addressed as noted above. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is compliant with the 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