San Antonio, Texas
The Archdiocese of San Antonio (“the Archdiocese”), which was established in 1874 and was designated an archdiocese in 1926, encompasses 20 counties in south-central Texas. It consists of 132 parishes, 34 missions, and 49 schools and serves a population of 644,357 registered Catholics. There are 155 diocesan priests and 312 deacons serving the population. The Most Reverend Patrick F. Flores was installed as archbishop on October 13, 1979, and leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit of the Archdiocese was conducted during the period of September 1-5, 2003.
The information contained herein represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit. Information regarding necessary and recommended corrective actions taken by the Archdiocese subsequent to the audit will be found in the last paragraph.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese has established an outreach program, which has been published in English and Spanish. The archbishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese who reported the abuse after June 2002. A victim assistance coordinator, employed by the Texas Department of Children’s Services, has been appointed but was not slated to report until September 7, 2003. She will also serve as the safe environment program coordinator. A Recommendation was made that she be installed as quickly as possible. The Archdiocese has had a crisis intervention committee in place since 1985, which serves to advise the archbishop on individual cases of abuse. A Commendation was issued for this foresight. A newly formed review board complements the committee and advises on matters of policy and procedures concerning the prevention of sexual abuse of minors. A Recommendation was issued suggesting that the role and responsibilities of the committee be documented. Both the review board and the committee have twelve members, both clergy and laity, with varied backgrounds, including several with counseling or social work experience. The procedures for making allegations of abuse are readily available in published form in English and Spanish. There has been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Archdiocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
Appropriate liaison has been established with civil authorities to ensure that matters of abuse are reported, and cooperation is extended during investigations by those authorities. The Archdiocese has a procedure in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a cleric to civil authorities. The Archdiocese has communicated its policies openly and clearly through the secular press and archdiocesan news outlets and on its website. A clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons has been established by the Archdiocese.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese has not submitted the final results of the research study regarding the “nature and scope” of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. A Recommendation was issued to complete compiling the needed information and submit it in a timely manner.
To Protect the Faithful in the Future
The Archdiocese has selected and implemented a safe environment program using a multimedia presentation for adults; however, a program has not been developed for the training of children. A Recommendation was set forth suggesting that one be developed in the very near future. Training programs are in place for all people associated with the diocese as clergy, employees, contractors, and volunteers. Augmenting these standards are procedures for conducting background checks, including criminal and public document reviews. To date, not all checks have been completed on all required personnel. An Instruction was issued suggesting that all background investigations be conducted expeditiously. The Archdiocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him to another ministerial assignment. Four priests have taken up residence in foreign countries, and the respective dioceses have been so notified. The archbishop is in frequent contact with the major superiors and plans a meeting to discuss the issues related to the Charter in the near future. The Archdiocese has extensive, layered procedures in effect concerning the formation process for priests and deacons and evaluation and screening of candidates for ordination. No opportunities have occurred which would enable the Diocese to work with other churches, religious bodies or institutions of learning to conduct research regarding the sexual abuse of children.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of San Antonio was issued two Instructions, four Recommendations, and one Commendation.
INSTRUCTION 1—The Archdiocese should modify its current policy to include the specific provision that clergy will be removed from active ministry for an act of sexual abuse of a minor in the past, present, or future.
INSTRUCTION 2—The Archdiocese should conduct background checks on all pertinent individuals expeditiously.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That a victim assistance coordinator be installed as quickly as possible.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the crisis intervention committee document its mission, composition, succession plan, and meeting procedures.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That results of the research study concerning the problem of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy be submitted as soon as possible.
RECOMMENDATION 4—That every effort be made to expedite the implementation of a safe environment program for children.
COMMENDATION—For instituting the crisis intervention committee in 1985.
As of December 1, 2003, the Instruction and all Recommendations had been addressed. The Archdiocese of San Antonio 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