Fort Worth, Texas
The Diocese of Fort Worth (“the Diocese”), which was established on August 9, 1969, encompasses 28 counties in north-central Texas. It consists of 88 parishes and three missions, 62 deacons, 60 diocesan priests, and 18 schools, and it serves a population of 400,078 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Joseph Delaney, who was installed as bishop on September 13, 1981, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of August 25-29, 2003.
The information found herein represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding suggested corrective actions taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese published a document entitled Policy on Sexual Misconduct by Church Personnel in 1993; it has been updated at various times, as recently as July 2003. This document is the basis for the diocesan outreach program and appears on the diocesan website. The bishop, or his designee, has met and communicated with the one victim/survivor who reported sexual abuse after June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator has a master’s degree in education, with extensive counseling experience since 1979. The diocesan review board was established in 1993 and was updated to comply with the Charter. The Diocese was commended for establishing an outreach program before it was required. It is composed of 18 members with experience and backgrounds that lend themselves to the task. The procedures for making a complaint of sexual abuse are readily available in the outreach program policy and in a pamphlet in both English and Spanish that was mailed to 75,000 registered Catholics in the Diocese. 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 effective liaison with civil authorities, which ensures that all matters of sexual abuse of children and young people by clergy are reported and that cooperation is extended in any investigations that follow. A procedure is in effect to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a cleric to civil authorities. A clear code of conduct for priests and deacons has been written and is scheduled for adoption at the October 8, 2003, annual safe environment meeting. The Diocese has a communications policy that exhibits the bishop’s dedication to be open and transparent on issues relating to sexual abuse of children and young people.
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 and adopted the Praesidium, Inc., program for safe environment training, and presentations were made to clergy in late 2002. Training for other diocesan personnel and volunteers was to begin in September 2003 and to be concluded by the end of the year. The diocesan standards of conduct for clergy, as well as for diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children were to be adopted on October 8, 2003. The Diocese has established good procedures for conducting background investigations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with children and young people; however, fingerprint checks through law enforcement agencies are not done. A Recommendation was given suggesting this practice be initiated. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abused filed against him to another ministerial assignment, or for purposes of residency in another diocese. The bishop meets periodically with delegates of the one religious order in the Diocese to discuss matters of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. 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. An effective screening and evaluation process is in place within the Diocese to determine the suitability for candidates for ordination, and 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 Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Fort Worth was issued one Commendation and one Recommendation.
RECOMMENDATION—That consideration be given to including a fingerprint check with local, state, and/or federal law enforcement agencies as part of the background investigation of personnel.
COMMENDATION—For the Diocese’s commitment to a safe environment for children and young people prior to the enactment of the Charter.
As of December 1, 2003, this Recommendation had been addressed, and the Diocese of Fort Worth was 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