The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1977, encompasses six civil parishes in southern Louisiana. It consists of 39 Catholic parishes and 13 schools, has 49 active diocesan priests, and 28 deacons, and serves a population of 126,000 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Sam G. Jacobs, who was installed as bishop in 2003, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of October 27-31, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program. The bishop, or his delegate, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse. The victim assistance coordinator is Sr. Miriam Mitchell, who also serves as the chancellor. The diocesan review board was established in 1994 and consists of seven members, including one priest and six 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
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations. 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 and well-publicized 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 fully 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 safe environment program consisting of presentations to all diocesan and parish personnel having regular contact with children. 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 conducts background investigations 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 diocese for ministerial assignment. In the two cases of two priests who transferred to other dioceses for residence, letters have been sent to the bishops of those dioceses, confidentially providing all information relating to allegations of sexual abuse of children by the priests. 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
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux 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