The Diocese of Columbus (“the Diocese”), established in 1868, encompasses 23 counties in central Ohio and serves a Catholic community of 236,000 parishioners in 107 parishes. It has 128 active diocesan priests, 70 permanent deacons, 46 elementary schools, and 11 high schools. The Most Reverend James A. Griffin, installed as bishop in 1983, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of June 30–July 4, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established a policy and procedures to respond to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy, including the provision of support as described in the Charter. The bishop or his designee is available to meet or has met with victims/survivors or their families. Msgr. Stephen Moloney performs the function of victim assistance coordinator. A seven-member review board, chaired by a former county judge and comprising qualified professionals experienced in responding to sexual abuse, provides confidential counsel to the Diocese. Procedures for filing a complaint of sexual abuse are readily available in printed form. No confidentiality agreements have been entered into since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
Since June 2002, the Diocese has received no reports of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy. The Diocese and external counsel have each reported that they have cooperated in referring cases of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has in place a procedure to advise each victim of his or her right to report allegations of sexual abuse to civil authorities. The Diocese has promulgated clear standards of ministerial conduct and boundaries for clergy and other church personnel who have regular conduct with youth and children. The Diocese has an established communications policy of commitment to transparency and openness. Parishes directly affected by clergy misconduct have received the support of the bishop.
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 retained VIRTUS for implementation of its safe environment and background evaluation programs. Available law enforcement resources are relied upon to assist in background evaluations. Both clergy and lay personnel are subject to criminal background searches by the state Bureau of Criminal Identification. Since 2002, no priest against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse has been reported has been transferred outside the Diocese for either residency or ministerial purposes. The bishop advised his counterpart in another diocese regarding an accused priest who had retired to that diocese prior to June 2002. The Diocese uses screening and evaluation regimes to consider the fitness of candidates for ordination. An autumn 2003 conference was scheduled for representatives of religious intuitions in the Diocese. In addition to the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (2001),1 complementary meetings are convened throughout the year.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Columbus 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 received two Commendations.
COMMENDATION 1—For the organization of all materials relevant to implementing the Charter into an easily referenced document.
COMMENDATION 2—For the use of the document called the “Decree” to convey pertinent information regarding the diocesan response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
- 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