Dodge City, Kansas
The Diocese of Dodge City (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1951, encompasses 28 counties in southwest Kansas. It consists of 49 parishes and missions and nine elementary schools and serves a population of about 55,000 registered Catholics with nine deacons and 36 diocesan priests. The Most Reverend Ronald M. Gilmore, who was installed as bishop in 1998, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 22-26, 2003.
The information presented 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 will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has had a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors since 1993, and this policy provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The Diocese has an assistance minister, Donna Staab, an RN with expertise in the fields of child advocacy and victim assistance, who was appointed in July 2003. A lay review board, currently consisting of one priest and five respected members of the community, including a psychiatrist and a social worker, was established in 1993. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed and electronic form. The Diocese has not entered into any confidentiality agreements since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has had limited contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse violations, because no violations have been reported to the Diocese since June 2002. The Policy for Protection of Children and Young People, effective June 2003, provides for immediate reporting of allegations to the appropriate authorities and for advising victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. An Instruction was written requiring that this policy and the accompanying guidelines be amended to reflect that the bishop shall exercise the executive power of governance, should the occasion ever arise. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized Code of Pastoral Conduct for Priests, Deacons, Pastoral Ministers, Staff and Volunteers, for which all must sign a statement of receipt. The Diocese has an excellent communications policy, reflecting a 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 selected a series of safe environment seminars, offered by VIRTUS for presentation to adults having regular contact with children. The Diocese has complied with a public school system mandate for presentation of appropriate safety material to their children. The Diocese is also attempting to identify other education programs for children and young people. As mentioned above, the Diocese has publicized standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people. The Diocese had a policy in place since 1993 for completing background investigations on all new diocesan personnel. In August 2003, the policy was revised to include all current employees and volunteers and all teachers and youth sponsors, except those not part of the “team” concept. A Recommendation was written to eliminate the “team” exclusion and to complete all background evaluations as soon as practical. The Diocese has not transferred any priests or deacons who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse lodged against them to any other diocese for ministerial assignment or residence since June 2002. The bishop has corresponded with several major superiors of orders having a presence in the Diocese to coordinate 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 and ongoing formation programs for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Dodge City was issued one Instruction and one Recommendation.
INSTRUCTION—The bishop was instructed to revise the Policy for Protection of Children and Young People to conform to the Charter, reflecting that he shall exercise the executive power of governance, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric, should the occasion ever arise.
RECOMMENDATION—That background check requirements be revised to conform with the Charter and to eliminate the “team concept” exclusion, and that the remaining evaluations be conducted as soon as practical.
As of December 1, 2003, the Instruction and Recommendation had been addressed. The Diocese of Dodge City is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in 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