Los Angeles, California
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles (“the Archdiocese”), which was established in 1936, encompasses the counties of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles. It consists of 288 parishes and seven missions, two seminaries, five universities, and 242 schools, and 549 diocesan priests and 219 deacons serve a population of 4,206,875 registered Catholics. His Eminence, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, installed in 1985, leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit of the Archdiocese was conducted during the period of June 23-27, 2003.
The information found herein represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding necessary and recommended corrective actions taken by the Archdiocese after the audit will be found in the final paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
In 1987, the Archdiocese initiated an “Archdiocesan Policy on Sexual Abuse by Clergy.” This was followed by an outreach program to victims/survivors that provides them with assistance and counseling. The last revision to the policy was in February 2002, and the Archdiocese is in the process of updating this revision. A Recommendation was made to complete this revision to include relevant aspects of the Charter and to provide this policy to all clergy. The Archdiocese was commended for its early recognition of the sexual abuse problem and its proactive approach 15 years before the Charter. The archbishop or his designated representative, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese who have reported sexual abuse since June 2002. The assistance ministry coordinator is well qualified and properly provides response to victims/survivors of sexual abuse. The sexual abuse advisory board, which has evolved into the clergy misconduct oversight board, is made up of 13 highly qualified and diverse members, including parents of victims/survivors. The procedures for making an allegation of abuse, including an 800 number, are readily available in the diocesan newspapers, on the diocesan website, and in a pamphlet. A Recommendation was made to revise the pamphlet to more specifically address the issue of sexual abuse of minors. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Archdiocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese had an informal process for reporting allegations of sexual abuse to civil authorities; how-ever, no formal records of such reports were kept. An Instruction was issued to establish a record-keeping system of all referrals and subsequent contacts made with public officials. Approximately one year ago, the California District Attorneys Association and the California Conference of Bishops formulated a model protocol for cooperating in sexual abuse investigations; however, Los Angeles and Ventura County district attorneys have not adopted this model. A Recommendation was made for the Archdiocese to meet with the district attorneys to consider adopting this model protocol. Extensive, ongoing litigation exists between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the district attorneys’ offices, including issues of privileged communications between the Archbishop and/or his delegates and clergy of the Archdiocese. This situation has led to perceptions of lack of cooperation by all parties. A procedure is in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse to civil authorities. The Archdiocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The sexual abuse issue has received extensive media attention in the Los Angeles area, and the archbishop has responded with openness to his parishioners and the public.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese is participating 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 Archdiocese has implemented a safe environment program with all parishes, mandating that they form Safeguard the Children committees. The Archdiocese has publicized standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and other persons of trust who have regular contact with children and young people. Dating back to the 1980s, the Archdiocese has documented programs for conducting fingerprint checks for diocesan priests and employees of the Catholic schools. This requirement has been extended to all priests. The Archdiocese has not transferred any cleric who has committed sexual abuse of a minor to another diocese for ministry. One priest with an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor moved to another diocese. The information concerning him was confidentially forwarded to the bishop of that diocese. The archbishop and his representative have met on several occasions with the major superiors of men’s and women’s religious orders concerning matters of sexual abuse of children. There has been no opportunity for formal dialogue with institutions of learning or other churches regarding research about sexual abuse of children, but this opportunity is being considered for the future. The Archdiocese has had an ongoing program for the screening and evaluation of candidates for ordination and has systematic ongoing formation programs in keeping with the Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (2001).1
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was issued one Instruction, three Recommendations, and two Commendations.
INSTRUCTION—The Archdiocese shall formulate a written policy and implement procedures to properly report and record allegations of sexual abuse of minors to public authorities.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Archdiocese update and disseminate the current prevention policy on sexual abuse by clergy.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Archdiocese revise the pamphlet setting forth various facets of the sexual abuse prevention policy to make it more current and appropriate.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That contact be made with district attorneys to consider adopting a model protocol for reporting allegations of abuse and cooperating in ensuing investigations.
COMMENDATION 1—For having adopted a written sexual abuse prevention policy and review board prior to the implementation of the Charter.
COMMENDATION 2—For having created a sexual abuse advisory board in 1994.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations and Instructions have been addressed. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter, as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 of Section I.
- USCCB, Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (Washington, DC: USCCB, 2001).
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