The Diocese of Saginaw (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1938, encompasses 11 counties of Michigan. It consists of 108 parishes and 29 schools, has 107 diocesan priests, 14 deacons, and serves a population of 139,824 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Kenneth E. Untener, who was installed as bishop in 1980, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of June 30–July 3, 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. The bishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese who reported the abuse prior to and since June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Janet Fulgenzi, OP, Ph.D., who is a licensed psychologist. The diocesan review board was established in 2003 and consists of five members, including one priest and four 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 victims/survivors.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring 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 a clear code of conduct for priests and deacons, but it has not been widely publicized. A Recommendation was made for the Diocese to communicate the standards of conduct through various means. 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 the VIRTUS safe environment program, scheduled for initiation in August 2003. The Diocese has 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, but the standards have not been well publicized. As mentioned above, a Recommendation was made for the standards to be publicized. The Diocese has begun to put into place a process for conducting background evaluations of all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. A Recommendation was made for this process to be expedited. 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. There have been instances where priests have relocated for residency purposes and in those instances, the receiving bishop has been advised of the the man’s history. The bishop has had no contact with major superiors on the issue of sexual abuse of minors, because there are no religious institutes in the Diocese. The Diocese 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 Diocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination. A Commendation was issued recognizing the extensive use of professionals in the fields of psychology and psychiatry in the screening of candidates for ordination. The Diocese has ongoing formation programs for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Saginaw was issued two Recommendations and two Commendations.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese publicize standards of conduct for clergy and others who have regular contact with children.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Diocese communicate with pastors on the issue of background evaluations for personnel who have regular contact with children, in order to expedite completion of this process.
COMMENDATION 1—For the adoption of a comprehensive sexual abuse prevention policy in 1989.
COMMENDATION 2—For the extensive use of professionals from the fields of psychology and psychiatry in the screening of candidates for ordination.
As of December 1, 2003, both Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Saginaw 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