The Diocese of Dallas (“the Diocese”), which was established on July 15, 1890, having been originally part of the Diocese of Galveston, currently encompasses 7,338 square miles in Texas. It consists of 67 parishes and eight missions, 37 schools, one university, and one seminary, and it serves a Catholic population of 853,961 with 158 deacons, and 72 active diocesan priests. Bishop Charles V. Grahmann, who was appointed in 1990, and Coadjutor Bishop Joseph A. Galante, who was received in 2000, lead the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 22-26, 2003.
The information set forth 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 is found in the last paragraph.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program, which is outlined in its “Policy on Sexual Misconduct,” which was revised in March 2003. Diocesan personnel have met with victims/survivors, when requested, and have provided services as needed. The victim assistance coordinator has a master’s degree in religious education and has served in that position since August 1998. The diocesan review board was established in 1988 and reconstituted in September 2002, and consists of seven members, including a licensed psychologist and the father of a victim. Procedures for reporting an allegation of sexual abuse are set forth on the diocesan website. 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 civil authorities to ensure an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations and investigations. The aforementioned “Policy on Sexual Misconduct” contains procedures to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has in effect a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The bishops have a communications policy, reflecting their pledge to be open and transparent. The Texas Catholic and programs on Hispanic radio are used to communicate the policies of the Diocese.
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 of Dallas has an outstanding safe environment program that has served as a model program for others. The program was initiated and developed years before the adoption of the Charter and has since been revised. The program includes external audits of all parishes and schools, as well as extensive training. Given the large number of Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Diocese, the Recommendation was made that the Diocese consider furnishing critical documents and training in Spanish. The Diocese has established and utilized the screening procedures and forms set forth in its Safe-Environment Program Manual, including criminal background checks, reference checks, and interviews. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another ministerial assignment; however, there have been instances where clergy have relocated to another diocese. The Recommendation was made that proper notification be made to the bishop of the diocese to which the individuals had moved. The bishops have coordinated roles with representatives of religious orders concerning issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of other religious institutes. The Diocese has established an effective screening and evaluation program for the selection of candidates for ordination. The Diocese has a systematic, ongoing formation program in keeping with the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (2001).1
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of the audit, the Diocese of Dallas was issued one Recommendation and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION—That key safe environment material, forms, and training be furnished in the
COMMENDATION—For great initiative in the development of the Diocese’s safe environment program and for its dedication to the safety of youth.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations have been addressed, and the Diocese of Dallas is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as described in Chapter 2 of Section I.
- 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