The Diocese of Oakland (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1962, encompasses two counties. It consists of 87 parishes and two missions, 204 diocesan priests, 92 deacons, three colleges/universities, 54 schools, and serves a population of 432,890 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend John S. Cummins, who was installed as bishop in 1997, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of July 21-25, 2003.
The information found herein represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding recommended corrective actions taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese established a remarkable outreach program in 1999 that was revised in 2003 to better conform to articles of the Charter. The Diocese was commended for this foresight and effort. The bishop has met with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese who reported the abuse since June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Sr. Barbara Flannery, who has served in this position for nine years. The diocesan review board, known as the “sensitive issues board,” has been in continuous operation since 1993 and consists of eight members, including two priests, an attorney, an insurance executive, a physician, a victim/survivor, and a public health professional. The procedures for making a complaint of sexual abuse are readily available in printed form and have been widely distributed. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has reported all allegations of sexual abuse that have been received to civil authorities and has cooperated in those investigations that followed. A procedure is in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to public authorities. A Recommendation was made that the Diocese implement a program to periodically evaluate whether offenders remain in compliance with Article 5 of the Charter. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. A communications policy is in effect, reflecting the bishop’s commitment to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children. A Recommendation was made that the Diocese combine its various policies dealing with abuse into one policy document.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Diocese 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 Diocese has implemented various, effective training programs within the diocese, including the program Creating Safe and Sacred Places, for the purposes of training high school youth and personnel in safe environments. A Recommendation was made suggesting that the Diocese develop culturally appropriate safe environment programs targeting all ethnic concentrations within the Diocese. Standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any persons in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people have been publicized. The diocesan background evaluations require fingerprinting and arrest checks for all diocesan and parish personnel and volunteers. All of these names are checked through the California criminal databases. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another ministerial assignment, or for the purposes of residency in another diocese. One retired priest has moved to another diocese, and that diocese has been given appropriate notification. The bishop and the major superiors have periodic contact and have coordinated their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of a religious order. The Diocese has not had an opportunity to cooperate with other faiths or institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. Effective screening and evaluation techniques have been established for the purpose of selecting candidates for ordination, and formation programs for priests are ongoing.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Oakland was issued three Recommendations and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese implement a program to periodically evaluate whether clergy who have been removed form active ministry remain in compliance with that edict.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Diocese develop culturally appropriate safe environment programs for the diverse members of the Diocese.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That the Diocese incorporate its various policies dealing with sexual abuse issues into one policy document.
COMMENDATION—For the early development of a highly successful outreach program.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Oakland is found to be in compliance 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