Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana
The Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend (“the Diocese”), which was established in Fort Wayne in 1857, encompasses 14 counties in northeastern Indiana. It consists of 87 parishes, 45 elementary and secondary schools, and five colleges/universities, and it serves a population of 167,000 registered Catholics with 22 deacons and 64 diocesan priests. The Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy, installed as bishop in 1985, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of August 18-22, 2003.
The information presented below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese had a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors prior to 1990; revised most recently in 2003, this policy provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The Diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Fr. Robert Schulte, the vicar general, who has a minor in psychology. He is also in the process of training a lay woman to assist him. The diocesan review board was established in 2002 and consists of one priest and nine respected members of the community, including a clinical psychologist, two executives from the University of Notre Dame, and two doctors. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed and electronic form. The Diocese has entered into no confidentiality agreements since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has had little contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse allegations, because no allegations have been reported to the Diocese since June 2002. Policy, however, provides for immediate reporting of allegations to the appropriate authorities in accordance with civil law. The Diocese does have a procedure for advising victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests, deacons, and other church personnel who have contact with children. The Diocese has a communications policy reflecting the bishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children, exemplified by a series of seven (diocesan and secular) newspaper articles setting forth the bishop’s pastoral reflections on sexual abuse within the Church.
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 series of safe environment programs for presentation to clergy and adults having regular contact with children and young persons, and to the children themselves. 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 requires background investigations on all employees of Catholic schools and has implemented a program to conduct background checks on all the clergy and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. 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 and the major superior of a religious order having a presence in the Diocese have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious institute. The bishop participated in a four-day seminar at the University of Notre Dame attempting to identify causes of the sexual abuse issue. The Diocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and has established on ongoing formation program for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Fort Wayne–South Bend 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 of Fort Wayne–South Bend was issued one Commendation.
COMMENDATION—For the early establishment of a policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors, and for the bishop’s open and transparent communication policies and efforts, and for the collaborative, positive efforts of the diocesan employees to fully implement the provisions of the Charter.
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