Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Diocese of Grand Rapids (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1882, encompasses 11 counties of western Michigan. It consists of 90 parishes, one seminary, and 43 schools, and 26 deacons and 114 diocesan priests serving a population of 162,670 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Robert J. Rose, who was installed as bishop in 1989, and the Most Reverend Kevin M. Britt, who was named coadjutor bishop in 2002, led the Diocese. On October 13, 2003, Bishop Britt became the diocesan bishop upon Bishop Rose’s retirement. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of June 30–July 3, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program. The bishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese who reported the abuse after June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Edgar Donatelli, who holds an advanced degree in social work. The diocesan review board was established in 2002 and consists of eight members, including one priest and seven respected members of the lay community. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. 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 local civil authorities, ensuring that an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations will occur. The Diocese has a procedure in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has established a clear code of conduct for priests and deacons. The Diocese has a communications policy that reflects the bishop’s 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 and implemented the VIRTUS safe environment program, consisting of presentations to diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with children. The Diocese has created and published 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 has procedures for conducting background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him to another ministerial assignment in another diocese. In the one case of a priest who transferred to another diocese for residency purposes, the bishop of that diocese was notified and was confidentially provided with all information relating to allegations of sexual abuse of a child by the priest. The bishop, or his delegate, and the major superiors have coordinated 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.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
As of December 1, 2003, the Diocese of Grand Rapids 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 was issued two Commendations.
COMMENDATION 1—For the excellence of the Diocese’s outreach program.
COMMENDATION 2—For the excellence of the Diocese’s communications policy, including activities such as publishing the identities of review board members.
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