The Archdiocese of Seattle (“the Archdiocese”), which was established in 1903, encompasses 19 counties in western Washington, consists of 171 parishes and missions, 56 schools, has 183 archdiocesan priests and 70 deacons, and serves a population of 800,000 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Alex J. Brunett, who was installed as archbishop in 1997, leads the Archdiocese. A compliance audit of the Archdiocese was conducted during the period of September 15-19, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Archdiocese has established an outreach program. The archbishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with all victims/survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese who reported the abuse after June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator, also referred to as the “pastoral outreach coordinator,” is Jessie Dye, an expert in dispute resolution and conflict management. The special cases committee, which had been established in 1988, was replaced by the archdiocesan review board in 2003. The current board consists of eight members, including two priests and six 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 Archdiocese since June 2002, unless requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Archdiocese has established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations. The Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The Archdiocese has a communications policy that reflects the archbishop’s pledge to be open and transparent on issues regarding the sexual abuse of children.
To Ensure Accountability of Procedures
The Archdiocese 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 Archdiocese has had a self-developed safe environment program in place since 1990, consisting of training presentations to all archdiocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with children. This program was being updated at the time of the audit. The Archdiocese has publicized standards of conduct for priests and deacons, as well as archdiocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people. The Archdiocese is conducting background evaluations for all archdiocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. The Archdiocese 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 archbishop, 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 Archdiocese has cooperated since the 1980s with other churches, religious bodies, and institutions of learning in conducting research in the area of sexual abuse of minors. The Archdiocese has established screening and evaluative techniques in the selection of candidates for ordination.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Archdiocese of Seattle was issued one comprehensive Commendation. As of December 1, 2003, the Archdiocese of Seattle was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I.
COMMENDATION—For the excellence of the Archdiocese’s sexual abuse prevention policy, dating to 1991; for the 1988 establishment of a special cases committee and the 1990 establishment of a blue-ribbon committee, both of which established the foundation for the current archdiocesan review board; and for the personal efforts of Archbishop Brunett to communicate with the public on issues relating to sexual abuse of minors and to extend outreach to victims/survivors of abuse.
*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