Sioux City, Iowa
The Diocese of Sioux City (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1902, encompasses 24 counties in the northwest portion of Iowa. It consists of 124 parishes, 29 elementary schools, eight high schools, and one university and serves a population of about 94,500 registered Catholics with 156 diocesan priests and 36 deacons. The Most Reverend Daniel N. DiNardo, installed as bishop in 1998, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of September 2-5, 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.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has a prevention policy on sexual abuse of minors that includes an outreach program designed to provide immediate pastoral care to victims/survivors and their families. The Diocese was commended for having had an appropriate policy in place since 1992, with revisions made in 1995. The bishop, or his representative, has met with the victims/survivors wishing to do so. The Diocese has a victim assistance coordinator, Msgr. R. Mark Duchaine, vicar for canonical affairs. Recognizing that a lay person might be more appropriate for this position, the Diocese was in the process of identifying possible solutions. A Recommendation was written requesting prompt decision on this issue. The new victim assistance coordinator is the Mercy Child Advocacy Center. A lay review board was established in July 2002, consisting of one priest and eight lay members, including two nurses, two licensed/degreed professional therapists, and a judge. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. The Diocese has entered into no confidentiality agreements since June 2002, unless requested by the victim/survivor.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
The Diocese has established liaison with local civil authorities regarding sexual abuse violations and has reported all allegations of abuse as required. The Diocese has a policy and procedure in place to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities. The Diocese has established a clear and well-publicized code of conduct for priests and deacons. The Diocese has a communications policy reflecting a commitment 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 begun implementing a series of safe environment seminars, through VIRTUS, for presentation to adults having regular contact with children. While a schedule of training has been developed, all training, including training of some priests, has not yet been completed. A Recommendation was written requiring all priests to be immediately trained and all other adults trained as soon as possible. Children and young people have been trained in these safety matters through the public and parochial schools. 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 begun completing background investigations on all new members of the clergy and all new diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. An Instruction was written requiring a change in the policy to require all employees and volunteers, not just new personnel, to go through the background evaluation process. 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; however, one such priest had changed his residence after June 2002, and the appropriate notification was made. 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. There are no major superiors or seminaries in the Diocese. The Diocese has established ongoing formation programs for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Sioux City was issued one Instruction, two Recommendations, and one Commendation.
INSTRUCTION—The Diocese should modify the policy regarding background evaluations to require all employees, volunteers, and clergy, not just new employees, to be subjected to background evaluations, and that these evaluations be conducted as soon as possible.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese should make a prompt decision on the new victim assistance coordinator position.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the training schedule of the safe environment programs for adults be monitored closely and completed by January 2004, and that the training for priests be completed by October 2003.
COMMENDATION—For having a well-prepared prevention policy for addressing sexual abuse issues since 1992, with appropriate revisions made in 1995.
As of December 1, 2003, all Instructions and Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Sioux City 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