Diocese of
Lafayette, Indiana

The Diocese of Lafayette (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1944, encompasses 24 counties in northwestern Indiana. It consists of 62 parishes, 24 elementary and secondary schools, and one college, and it serves a population of 96,893 registered Catholics with six deacons and 114 diocesan priests. The Most Reverend William Higi, installed as bishop in 1984, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 8-11, 2003.

The information presented below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.


To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has had a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors since 1989 and has made necessary revisions to the policy. This policy provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The Diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, David Wilson, who has a master’s degree in social work. A lay review board, consisting of two priests and five respected members of the community, including a therapist, two police officers, an attorney, and a teacher, was established in 1993. 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. A general Commendation was written for the Diocese’s foresight in adopting progressive and proactive measures years before they were mandatory.

To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has had little contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse allegations. 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. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests, deacons, and other church personnel who have regular contact with children. 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 has implemented a series of safe environment seminars, the Sexual Abuse Protocol, for presentation to clergy, all adults having regular contact with children, and the children themselves. As mentioned above, 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 has a program for completing background investigations on all members of the clergy and all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. 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 assignment or residence since June 2002. The bishop’s designee and major superiors of orders having a presence in the Diocese 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 and has an ongoing formation program for priests.

Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter

At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Lafayette was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I. One Commendation was issued.

COMMENDATION—For foresight in adopting progressive and proactive measures to address sexual abuse allegations years before they were mandated by the Charter.

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
Email: ocyp@usccb.org
January 03, 2004 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops