The Diocese of Crookston (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1909, encompasses 14 counties of northwestern Minnesota. It consists of 69 parishes, 10 schools, and 32 priests and 10 deacons, and serves a population of 41,080 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Victor H. Balke, who was installed as bishop in 1976, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period October 6-10, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program. The bishop has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese who have reported the abuse since June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Bernadette Dunn, who works in the diocesan Office of Christian Service. The diocesan review board was established in 2002 and has five members, including an attorney, a social worker, a school counselor, a law enforcement officer, and a psychologist. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring that an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations will occur. The Diocese has a procedure in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of 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. The Diocese has a communications policy that reflects 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 developed and implemented a safe environment program, consisting of presentations to clergy, employees, and volunteers of the diocese who have regular contact with children. The Diocese has publicized standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as for diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people. The Diocese conducts background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him to another ministerial assignment, or for purposes of residency in another diocese. The bishop, or his delegate, and the major superiors have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric 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.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Crookston was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 of 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