The Diocese of Nashville (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1837, encompasses 38 counties in central Tennessee. There are 40 active diocesan and 22 active religious priests, 53 deacons, 51 parishes, 19 elementary schools, three high schools, and one college serving a Catholic community of 70,000 parishioners. The Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec, installed as bishop in December 1992, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of October 13-16, 2003.
The following information represents conditions as they existed at the time of the audit.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese of Nashville Response to Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor—Statement of Policy puts forth procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, including outreach. The Diocese has had a policy for responding to allegations of sexual abuse since 1985, which was formalized in writing in 1992. Deacon Hans M. Toecker was designated the victim assistance coordinator in September 2002. An eight-member review board, established in September 2002 and comprising a mental health expert, a physician, a victim advocate, businessman, a senior federal judge, the mother of an abuse victim, and two members of the diocesan clergy, provides confidential consultative counsel to the Diocese. There is policy on the composition and activity of the board. Written procedures for filing a complaint are readily available in printed form and have been periodically publicized. No confidentiality agreement has been entered into by the diocese either before or since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has cooperated with civil authorities on reporting allegations of sexual abuse regarding persons who are no longer minors. Diocesan policy directs that victims/survivors are to be advised of their right to make a report to public authorities. The Diocese has an ongoing relationship with the Department of Children Services, local district attorneys, and others. The Diocesan Code of Conduct for Church Personnel was disseminated to all clergy, seminarians, administrators, and school principals on August 18, 2003. The code is also incorporated into the Diocesan Administrative Manual and the website. Diocesan communications policy and procedures are incorporated into the policy, which has been publicized in the Tennessee Register and the diocesan website. The bishop and communications director have provided assistance and support to parishes directly affected by ministerial misconduct.
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 vicar general and superintendent of schools have developed a multi-faceted safe environment program that utilizes instruction and training programs from several local agencies, including the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center in Nashville. Training has been developed, implemented, and is ongoing for all diocesan personnel who regularly work with youth. Safe at Last and Teen Talk programs provide young children and teens with the proactive skills to prevent victimization. The Diocese has an adequate background evaluation procedure for diocesan and parish personnel and volunteers. The evaluation accesses certain county and state law enforcement departments and local agency resources, including the Tennessee Judicial Information System and Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. The Diocese has established standards of conduct for clergy and others in positions of trust. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him to another ministerial assignment in another diocese. The bishop has communicated with major superiors of six other religious institutes in the Diocese to review issues relating to responding to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. Screening and evaluation procedures are employed in considering the fitness for candidates for ordination. Systematic ongoing formation programs have been developed and implemented through several platforms.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Nashville 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