The Diocese of Cleveland (“the Diocese”), established in 1847, encompasses eight counties in north-central Ohio, with a total of 235 parishes serving a Catholic community of 815,000. There are a total of 593 diocesan and religious priests, 182 permanent deacons, 23 Catholic high schools, and 140 elementary schools. The Most Reverend Anthony M. Pilla, who was installed as bishop in January 1981, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of June 23-27, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese’s original Policy Regarding Allegations of Child Abuse by Clerics was established in March 1989 and was later revised in 1992. That policy was subsequently revised to conform to the Charter, promulgated in booklet form in March 2003, and renamed Policy for the Safety of Children in Matters of Sexual Abuse. The Diocese was commended for early recognition of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The bishop or his designee has met with those victims/survivors desiring to do so. Sr. Laura Bouhall, the victim assistance coordinator, has extensive teaching and administrative experience in the religious community. A 15-member review board, established in May 2003 and comprising diverse professional, clerical, and lay expertise, provides confidential consultative counsel to the Diocese. Procedures for filing a complaint of sexual abuse are readily available and have been disseminated throughout the Diocese as well as through a variety of publicly available media. There have been no confidentiality agreements with any victims/survivors or families since June 2002 unless requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
Diocesan policy requires reporting all allegations of abuse of a minor to civil authorities, without regard to the age of the victim/survivor. A procedure exists to immediately advise victims/survivors that they have the right to make a report to public authorities. 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 in various media, including parish bulletins, major secular newspapers, and the diocesan website. The Diocese has an articulated, established communications policy that reflects openness and transparency. The Diocese has hosted several listening sessions and pastoral healing services with parishes impacted by allegations of ministerial misconduct.
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 established a safe environment program that provides training for parents, educators, clergy, employees, and volunteers who regularly work with youth. At the time of the audit, the Diocese was reviewing a contract to adopt and implement the VIRTUS program, which, when implemented, will enhance existing training efforts. The overall diocesan policy incorporates standards of conduct for clergy and others in positions of trust. There are established procedures, including fingerprinting and background checks, for evaluating the background of all diocesan personnel, including independent contractors and volunteers. Screening and evaluation procedures are used in evaluating the fitness of candidates for ordination. Since June 2002, no cleric against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been made has been transferred or taken up residence away from the Diocese either for ministerial or residency purposes. Discussion with superiors of religious institutes or their delegates about allegations of sexual abuse by clergy is accomplished through scheduled meetings of the Conference of Religious Leadership. The Diocese has participated in forums with other churches and ecclesial communities, institutions of learning, and other interested organizations in addressing the issue of sexual abuse of minors. The Diocese relies on the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (2001)1 as the framework for formal, ongoing formation programs.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Cleveland was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I. The Diocese was issued one Commendation.
COMMENDATION—For the early recognition of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy and the establishment of a relevant policy in 1989.
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