The Archdiocese of Mobile (“the Diocese”) was originally established in 1829, was renamed in 1954, and was finally re-designated as the Archdiocese in 1980. It currently encompasses 38 counties in south Alabama; consists of 90 parishes and missions, 24 elementary and secondary schools, 63 deacons and 149 priests; and serves a population of about 65,000 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Oscar H. Lipscomb, who was installed as archbishop in 1980, leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit of the Archdiocese was conducted during the period July 28–August 1, 2003.
The information presented below represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit and information pertaining to compliance will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese has a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors, and this policy provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The archbishop or his designee have met with or offered to meet with all victims/survivors. The Archdiocese does have a director of child protection (victim assistance minister), Fr. James J. Cink, who has a degree in psychology and extensive experience in child protection/care matters, both in this country and in Canada. A lay review board, the case review board, which consists of nine respected members of the community, including a retired family practice doctor, two priests, and the administrator of a childcare home, was established in 2003. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed and electronic form. The Archdiocese has entered into no confidentiality agreements since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese has had contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse violations, even though there have been no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor reported to the Archdiocese since June 2002. All allegations have been reported to the civil authorities, and the Archdiocese has cooperated in every way. The Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The Archdiocese has a communications policy, reflecting the archbishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese of Mobile was in the process of preparing information for 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 developed its own series of safe environment seminars, the Archdiocese of Mobile Children and Adolescents Protection Program, for presentation to adults having regular contact with children; it includes a section for children of all ages. All training was scheduled to be completed before the end of November. A Commendation was issued for these efforts. As mentioned above, the Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has a procedure in place for completing background investigations on all members of the clergy and on all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. This procedure was to be put into place in the immediate future. The Archdiocese 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. One religious brother was returned to his order, and the order was notified of the reasons for his return. The archbishop and one major superior of a religious order with a presence in the Archdiocese—but not all major superiors—have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious institute. The Archdiocese 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; however, archdiocesan staff have met with other church leaders and discussed issues relating to the safety of children. The Archdiocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and has implemented ongoing formation programs.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of Mobile was issued one Commendation.
COMMENDATION—For the Archdiocese’s development of a safe environment program, the Archdiocese of Mobile Children and Adolescents Protection Program, with appropriate training for all adults who work with children, as well as for children, with an aggressive schedule to complete the training before the end of November 2003.
As of December 1, 2003, the Archdiocese of Mobile was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 of 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