New Orleans, Louisiana
The Archdiocese of New Orleans (“the Archdiocese”) was established as a diocese in 1793 and as an archdiocese in 1850. It encompasses eight civil parishes in southeast Louisiana and consists of 142 Catholic parishes, 82 schools, and two archdiocesan seminaries; 222 diocesan priests and 186 deacons serve a population of 488,584 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Alfred C. Hughes, who was installed as archbishop in 2002, leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit of the Archdiocese was conducted during the period of September 8-12, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding necessary corrective actions taken by the Archdiocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese has established an outreach program. The Archdiocese was commended for the extent of interaction with parishes, wherein Archbishop Hughes has held general meetings to discuss his commitment to a strong sexual misconduct policy. The archbishop has offered to meet and has met with victims/survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese who reported the abuse after June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Sr. Carmelita Centanni, MSC, Ph.D. The archdiocesan review board was established in 1992 and consists of 17 members, including one priest, two deacons, and a broad spectrum of lay persons from mental health, social service, and other professions. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Archdiocese since June 2002, unless requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations. The Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has established a code of conduct for priests and deacons, but there appeared to be some confusion between this code and standards adopted within the school system. It was recommended that the code of ministerial conduct be more clearly articulated and publicized. The Archdiocese has a communications policy that reflects the archbishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has established safe environment programs consisting of training sessions for children, youth, and adults, delivered throughout the Archdiocese. It was recommended that members of the clergy be afforded the benefit of a similarly professional curriculum. The Archdiocese has established 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. As pointed out above, it was recommended that these standards be clarified and publicized. The Archdiocese has begun the process of conducting background investigations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. An Instruction was issued for these investigations to be promptly completed. The Archdiocese 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 or for residence. The archbishop and the major superiors have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious institute. Archbishop Hughes was commended for developing outstanding rapport with the major superiors. 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. The Archdiocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and an ongoing formation program for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of New Orleans was issued one Instruction, two Recommendations, and two Commendations.
INSTRUCTION—The Archdiocese should immediately complete background evaluations for all clergy and lay personnel who have regular contact with children and youth.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That standards of conduct for personnel having regular contact with children be clarified and be clearly articulated and publicized to congregations.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That safe environment training programs be presented to members of the clergy, and that members of the clergy acknowledge receipt of such presentations in writing.
COMMENDATION 1—For the extent of outreach to parishes of the Archdiocese with regard to issues of sexual misconduct by clergy.
COMMENDATION 2—For the extent of personal interaction between Archbishop Hughes and the major superiors of religious orders within the Archdiocese in dealing with issues of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
As of December 1, 2003, Instruction 1 and Recommendations 1 and 2 had been addressed. The Archdiocese of New Orleans is 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