The Diocese of Salina (“the Diocese”), which was originally established in Concordia, Kansas, in 1887, encompasses 31 counties in northwest Kansas. The Diocese consists of 92 parishes and missions and 17 elementary and secondary schools, and 65 diocesan priests serve a population of 50,113 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend George K. Fitzsimons, who was installed as bishop in 1975, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of July 7-11, 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 prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors since 1990, and this policy provides for an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. It was recommended that the impending revision to the diocesan policy incorporate provisions for cooperation with social service agencies and other churches. The Diocese does not have a victim assistance coordinator, but the chancellor, Fr. Barry Brinkman, is serving in that capacity on an interim basis. It was recommended that a victim assistance coordinator be promptly appointed. A lay review board was established in 1990 and consists of six members of the community, including four professional health care workers and two priests. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed and electronic form. The Diocese has not entered into any 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 violations, because no violations have been reported to the Diocese since June 2002. The diocesan sexual abuse prevention policy, however, provides for immediate reporting of allegations to the appropriate authorities. The Diocese does not have a procedure for advising victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. It was recommended that such a procedure be incorporated into the impending revision to diocesan policy. 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 developed a series of safe environment seminars for presentation to adults having regular contact with children and has also created a booklet entitled Protecting our Children. A Commendation was issued for these efforts. The Diocese has adopted a public school system program for presentation of appropriate material to the youngest children, but a Recommendation was made that a program be developed for older children. As mentioned above, 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 has completed background investigations on all members of the clergy and planned to begin doing the same during September 2003 for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. 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 and the one major superior of an order having a presence in the Diocese 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 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 and has an ongoing formation program for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Salina was issued three Recommendations and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese incorporate provisions for cooperation with social service agencies and other churches in advising victims/survivors of their right to make a report to civil authorities in the diocesan sexual abuse prevention policy.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Diocese promptly identify and hire a victim assistance coordinator.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That the Diocese implement a safe environment program for all Catholic school and religious education students.
COMMENDATION—For the safe environment training seminars and written materials provided to all diocesan and parish adults.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Salina 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