The Diocese of Shreveport (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1986, encompasses 16 civil parishes in northern Louisiana, consists of 32 Catholic parishes and eight schools, has 41 diocesan priests, six deacons, and serves a population of 39,056 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend William B. Friend, who was installed as bishop in 1986, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 1-4, 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 had not had the opportunity to extend assistance to any victims/survivors by the time of the audit. The bishop has expressed a willingness to meet with victims/survivors of sexual abuse, should the need arise. The victim assistance coordinator is Ann Inabnet. The diocesan review board was established in 1994 and consists of eight members, including clergy and lay members of the legal, law enforcement, and counseling professions. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are contained in a policy statement, but the statement is not widely available to the public. A Recommendation was issued that the creation of a pamphlet containing this information might be expedited. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has had little contact with local civil authorities on issues of sexual abuse, due to the lack of relevant cases. The bishop has stated his intention to contact the authorities in order to ensure an open dialogue in the event of future allegations. The Diocese has a policy in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. It was recommended, however, that a checklist be created for the use of the victim assistance coordinator to ensure that this and other Charter-related information is imparted. 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, which consists of presentations to diocesan and parish personnel having regular contact with children. 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. While the Diocese has, in accordance with state law, been conducting background investigations for school personnel, the investigations are only in the initial stages for members of the clergy, employees, and volunteers who are not associated with the school system but who nonetheless have regular contact with children. 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 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.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Shreveport was issued three Recommendations.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the process of creating a pamphlet containing information relative to the procedure for filing a complaint of sexual abuse be accelerated.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That a checklist be created for the use of the victim assistance coordinator to ensure a that victim is advised of his or her right to report incidents of sexual abuse to civil authorities.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That the two existing sexual abuse policies (one for members of the clergy and the other for laity) be combined into one policy, in the interests of clarity and economy.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Shreveport 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