Gallup, New Mexico
The Diocese of Gallup (“the Diocese”) encompasses an area of more than 55,000 square miles and includes parts of Arizona and New Mexico. There are two private high schools and 10 private elementary schools; 53 percent of the Catholic community (totalling more than 53,000 people) comprises Native Americans from seven different tribes. There are 30 active diocesan priests and 29 deacons. Bishop Donald E. Pelotte, SSS, has served as bishop since March 1990. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of July 14-18, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit. Information on 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 an outreach policy dating back to August 1993 that addressed many of the articles incorporated into the Charter. The bishop was commended for his early initiatives. The Diocese has supported professional counseling to sexual abuse victims/survivors. The bishop or his representative has offered to meet with victims/survivors. The Diocese was found to have no established, documented outreach program for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse by diocesan personnel. An Instruction was issued in that regard. The Diocese had not filled the position of victim assistance coordinator; however, during the course of the audit, Sr. Mary Thurlough, a highly qualified Daughter of Charity sister, was appointed as the victim assistance coordinator. Thurlough assists in the supervision of Gallup’s Catholic Charities, which operates six outreach facilities that assist pregnant teens, the homeless, and alcoholic Native Americans. In August 2002, the Diocese assembled a five-person review board comprising five respected community members. The board includes two doctors of psychology, a licensed attorney, an educator, and a medical doctor. A Recommendation was issued to address the lack of documented review board policies and procedures. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
There have been no reported allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy since June 2002. The Diocese has an August 1993 policy booklet, Policy on Sexual Misconduct and/or Abuse, which is to be updated to conform to the Charter. A draft code of pastoral conduct for all church personnel was scheduled for October 2003 publication. An Instruction was issued for the Diocese to establish an ongoing relationship regarding referrals of sexual abuse allegations with civil authorities and to include those procedures in the Diocese’s code for pastoral conduct. A procedure is in place for victims/survivors to be advised of their right to make a report to public authorities. The bishop has a communications policy of openness and transparency. The bishop was commended for his initiative in publicizing, in April 2002, a resident cleric’s acts of sexual misconduct with minors that the cleric had previously committed in another 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 has a safe environment training initiative for diocesan clergy and lay personnel who regularly work with youth. The Diocese also conducts background evaluations on diocesan and parish personnel, including volunteers and independent contractors who have regular contact with youth. Evaluations include inquiries with appropriate law enforcement agencies. Screening and evaluation regimes are used in considering the fitness of candidates for ordination. No clergy accused of sexual abuse of a minor has been transferred for ministry or residence outside of the Diocese since June 2002. The bishop meets or communicates regularly with his major superior colleagues, who have been advised of their respective roles in responding to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The Diocese has an ongoing formation program for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Gallup was issued two Instructions, three Recommendations, and two Commendations.
INSTRUCTION 1—The Diocese will develop and foster relationships with public authorities in each of the counties in the diocese and will include those procedures in its code for pastoral conduct.
INSTRUCTION 2—The Diocese will create and document a pastoral outreach program that promotes healing and reconciliation of victims/survivors of sexual abuse of minors in accordance with provisions of the Charter.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the review board document its operational policies and procedures.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That procedures for filing and responding to a complaint of sexual abuse be made part of the code for pastoral conduct and be communicated throughout the diocese.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That the response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors, as set forth in Article 5 of the Charter, be incorporated in the code for pastoral conduct.
COMMENDATION 1—For Bishop Pelotte’s initiative in publicly addressing specific clergy misconduct prior to the adoption of the Charter.
COMMENDATION 2—For the bishop’s early, progressive initiatives—beginning in 1993 and 1994—addressing sexual misconduct issues and requiring comprehensive background evaluations.
As of December 1, 2003, the Instructions and Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Gallup is 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