The Diocese of Reno (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1931, encompasses 12 counties in northern Nevada, consists of 28 parishes and five schools, has 22 diocesan priests and nine deacons, and serves a population of 77,414 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Phillip F. Straling, who was installed as bishop in 1995, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of June 30-July 4, 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 Diocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program, but procedures have not been set forth in a policy document. An Instruction was issued for the Diocese to prepare a written document describing procedures for the outreach effort. The bishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese. The Diocese has hired two individuals, Ms. Patty Williams and Mr. Kendell Wilson, on an “as-needed” basis to function as victim assistance coordinators. The diocesan review board was established in 2002 and consists of ten members, including one priest, two nuns, and seven respected members of the lay community. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002, unless requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations. The Diocese 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 Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The Diocese has a communications policy that reflects the bishop’s pledge 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 selected and implemented the VIRTUS safe environment program. The Diocese has publicized 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 is conducting background evaluations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Diocese 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 purposes of residence. The bishop, or his delegate, 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. The Diocese has not had the opportunity to cooperate with other churches, religious bodies, and institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. The Diocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination and ongoing formation programs for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Reno was issued one Instruction and one Commendation.
INSTRUCTION—The Diocese will create and promulgate a policy setting forth outreach procedures to be followed once an allegation of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy is received.
COMMENDATION—For an excellent diocesan communications policy on issues of sexual abuse of minors, which is reflected in frequent articles in the diocesan newspaper and periodic notices in parish bulletins, in both Spanish and English.
As of December 1, 2003, the Instruction had been addressed. The Diocese of Reno 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