January 09, 2004 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Diocese of Green Bay (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1868, encompasses 16 counties in northeastern Wisconsin. It consists of 185 parishes, three missions, 77 elementary and secondary schools, and two colleges and serves a population of 381,472 registered Catholics with 104 deacons and 212 diocesan priests. The Most Reverend David A. Zubik, installed as bishop on December 12, 2003, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of October 20-24, 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.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has had a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors since 1973 for schools and religious education programs. It was revised in 1997, 2000, and 2002, although the most recent revision had not been formalized as of the audit date. However, since 1994, the Diocese has been offering the services of an outreach program to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The Diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Chancellor Sr. Mary Bride Grubbs, who has an extensive background in education and pastoral services. An independent review board, established in 2002, consists of one priest, one religious woman, and five respected members of the community, including a retired policeman, two sexual abuse counselors, and three attorneys. 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 contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse allegations. The policy provides for immediate reporting of allegations to the appropriate authorities. 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. Although the Diocese has not yet established a clear and well-publicized standards of ministerial behavior and for priests, deacons, and adults who have contact with children, a draft code was being reviewed at the time of the audit. An Instruction was written requiring the diocese to finalize and disseminate the standards of conduct and boundaries. The Diocese has a communications policy reflecting 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, through the VIRTUS program, has implemented a series of safe environment seminars for presentation to clergy and adults having regular contact with children, but the training had not been completed. A Recommendation was written requesting the Diocese to expeditiously complete the training. The Diocese has not implemented any training for the children and youth, as it is waiting for the completion of the VIRTUS training program for children. An Instruction was written requiring the Diocese to select an alternative available program so that training of the children could begin as soon as possible. Article 12 of the Charter states that Dioceses need appropriate standards of conduct for individuals in regular contact with children. A recommendation was written to finalize and disseminate this code. The Diocese has a program in place to complete background investigations on all members of the clergy and for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. However, the majority of the checks had not been completed at the time of the audit. An Instruction was written requiring the Diocese to expeditiously complete the background investigations. 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 purposes or residence since June 2002. One retired priest against whom an allegation was made and who was inactive in ministry, moved to another diocese. The bishop of that diocese has been notified of his presence. The bishop and the major superiors of religious orders having a presence in the Diocese have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a clerical 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 formation programs for priests and has an ongoing program for priestly formation.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Green Bay was issued three Instructions and two Recommendations.
INSTRUCTION 1—The Diocese should finalize and disseminate the standards of ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries for clergy and for any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people.
INSTRUCTION 2—The Diocese should expeditiously select an alternate safe environment program for training children and young people.
INSTRUCTION 3—The Diocese should expeditiously complete the background screening process for all parish personnel, volunteers, and all people who have regular contact with children.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese expeditiously complete the safe environment training of all relevant personnel.
RECOMMENDATION 2-That the Diocese promptly finalize the code of conduct and disseminate it to the appropriate individuals.
As of December 1, 2003, all Instructions and Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese has established, publicized, and distributed a code of conduct, implemented safe environment training for relevant personnel, and is implementing a training program for children and youth. The Diocese is progressing with background investigations of all members of the clergy and diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Diocese of Green Bay 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