Portland in Oregon
The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon (“the Archdiocese”), was established in 1846, initially as the Archdiocese of Oregon City. Its name was changed to its present title in 1928. The Archdiocese covers 29,717 square miles of western Oregon and serves a Catholic population of 356,037. It has 149 diocesan priests and 30 deacons in 124 parishes, 42 elementary schools, and 10 high schools. The Most Reverend John G. Vlazny was named archbishop in 1997. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of September 15-19, 2003.
The information set forth here represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit. Information on corrective actions taken by the Archdiocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese has had an established outreach program since 1992, which was revised in October 2002 in its Child Abuse Policy, and is available in both English and Spanish. The archbishop has offered to meet with all victims/survivors and has, in fact, met with numerous individuals. Cathy Shannon, the victim assistance coordinator, also functions as the child protection officer and director of religious education. The eight-member ministry review board, established in October 2002, is composed of a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, physician, retired state supreme court justice, an attorney, a former municipal court judge, a former school counselor, parents, and a priest. Represented among the membership are an abuse survivor as well as persons experienced in the field of child abuse prevention and treatment. Procedures for filing a complaint of sexual abuse and contacting the assistance coordinator are readily available in printed form and on the website in both English and Spanish. No confidentiality agreements have been entered into except at the request of a victim.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese has long complied with Oregon legal requirements for reporting child abuse, but no situation has required such reporting since June 2002. Archdiocesan policy clearly outlines the procedures and requirements for reporting incidents to civil authorities that is also required by state law. Procedures are in place to promptly address allegations and to also ensure that canon law is applied as required. The district attorney for Multnomah County, Oregon, and child protective services have advised that no investigation regarding a reportable allegation is to be undertaken by the Archdiocese until after the civil investigation is completed. Written standards for ministerial behavior and appropriate boundaries have been adopted, clearly articulated, and publicized. The archdiocesan and secular media, including the website, contain numerous accounts of the commitment of the archbishop to a communications policy of transparency and openness. The archbishop or his designee has made personal appearances at parishes directly affected by clergy misconduct.
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 child protection officer/assistance coordinator, augmented by a safe environment committee, has been directed to develop and implement a safe environment training program. Documentation regarding those individuals who have received this training was lacking, and a Recommendation was issued to address that issue. For children attending Catholic schools in grades K-6, the Archdiocese also has an age-specific program, Talking About Touching. No program has been initiated for the children attending religious education classes; a second Recommendation addressed that matter. Training for adults also includes the services of state agencies as well as video presentations. Effective policy and procedures are employed to ensure that applicable background evaluations are conducted. The Archdiocese was commended for the development and use of identification cards to confirm that the bearers have successfully completed a background evaluation and are eligible for volunteer service in any component of the Archdiocese. Tiered, progressive procedures are employed to evaluate the fitness of candidates for ordination. No clergy against whom a credible allegation has been reported has moved or been transferred outside the Archdiocese for either ministerial or residency purposes. The archbishop and his staff meet regularly with major superiors and members of other religious institutions represented in the territory. The Diocese has a systematic, ongoing formation program 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 Portland in Oregon was issued two Recommendations and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Archdiocese develop a tracking mechanism to account for those individuals who have completed safe environment training, similar to that used for monitoring background checks, thereby enhancing the overall program.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Archdiocese develop and implement a suitable program for the religious education students regarding safe environment training.
COMMENDATION—For the development and use of identification cards to confirm that the bearer has successfully completed a background evaluation and is eligible for volunteer service in any component of the Archdiocese.
As of December 1, 2003, the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon had completed the recommended actions. It is compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in 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