The Diocese of Pueblo (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1942, encompasses 29 counties in southern Colorado. It consists of 52 parishes, 56 missions, and five elementary and secondary schools, has 34 active diocesan priests and 29 deacons, and serves a population of 110,200 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Arthur N. Tafoya, who was installed as bishop in 1980, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 1-5, 2003.
The information presented below represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding necessary corrective actions taken by the Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has had a policy to prevent sexual abuse of minors since 1994; however, this policy has not yet been revised to conform to the provisions of the Charter. An Instruction was written requiring a review and amendment to the policy to cover specific items, such as the establishment of support groups to assist victims/survivors and their families, to foster these support groups in every parish, and to advise victims/survivors of their rights to make reports to civil authorities. The bishop advised that outreach is offered and victims/survivors are provided with assistance, but this was not documented in the policy and procedures. The Diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Jayne Mazur, who has a master’s degree in social work and is a licensed clinical social worker. A sexual misconduct review board, consisting of two priests and eight respected members of the community, including a victim of abuse and a psychiatrist, was established in 1992. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. The Diocese has entered into no confidentiality agreements since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has had little contact with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse of minors allegations, because no allegations have been reported to the Diocese since June 2002. However, it was determined that the Diocese does and will cooperate with the appropriate civil authorities. The Diocese does not have a policy for advising victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese had not yet finalized its code of conduct for priests and deacons but had one in final draft, which will be publicized. The Diocese has a communications policy, and the bishop has demonstrated his commitment to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children.
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 Diocese has initiated a series of safe environment seminars for presentation to clergy and adults having regular contact with children, and the children receive appropriate training through schools and religious education. The Diocese is also considering additional training for the children. A Commendation was written acknowledging that, as part of the safe environment program, an evaluation, including self-evaluation, of priests is conducted biannually. As mentioned above, the Diocese is preparing to publicize 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 Diocese has completed background investigations on all members of the clergy and employees and volunteers who have regular contact with minors and will repeat these investigations every two years. The Diocese 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. The bishop has not yet met with the major superior of the Benedictine order recently established in the Diocese to coordinate their respective roles regarding issues of allegations of sexual abuse made against a cleric member of the religious institute, and a Recommendation was issued in that regard. The Diocese has not been requested to cooperate with other churches, religious bodies, and institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors, but a Recommendation was written suggesting that the Diocese initiate contact with others since it represents the largest religious denomination in the region. The Diocese 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 Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Pueblo was issued one Instruction, two Recommendations, and one Commendation.
INSTRUCTION—The Diocese should review and amend its Policies and Procedures for the Sexual Misconduct Review Board for the Diocese of Pueblo, published in 1994, to more fully comply with the provisions of the Charter.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the bishop initiate appropriate dialogue with the leader of the Benedictine community to discuss their respective roles should an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor occur within the Diocese.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the bishop, or his designee, initiate liaison with other religious leaders and community groups to cooperate with them regarding the issue of sexual abuse of minors in society and other matters of mutual interest.
COMMENDATION—For its safe environment program and its ongoing formation of priests program, in which the Diocese has developed an instrument used by parishioners and priests to evaluate parish priests on various topics, including interaction with children.
As of December 1, 2003, all Instructions and Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Pueblo 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