Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri
The Diocese of Springfield–Cape Girardeau (“the Diocese”), which was established on August 24, 1956, encompasses 39 counties. It consists of 65 parishes and 19 missions, 68 diocesan priests, eight deacons, and 25 schools, and it serves a population of 63,325 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend John Leibrecht, who was installed on December 12, 1984, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of July 21-25, 2003.
The information set forth herein represents conditions as they were found to exist during the week of the audit. Information regarding recommended 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 an effective outreach program with provisions for counseling, spiritual assistance, and other services. It is the Diocese’s policy to respond immediately to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, and the bishop, or his representative, is committed to meeting with victims/survivors and their families. The victim assistance coordinator, Kathleen P. Griesemer, has excellent qualifications for that role. Due to her extensive travel outside the Diocese, it was recommended that the Diocese appoint a second coordinator to be available whenever Griesemer is not. The diocesan review board was established on January 10, 2003, and consists of five members: a parent, an attorney, a social worker, a doctor of medicine, and one member of the clergy. A Recommendation was issued advising the review board to refrain from conducting preliminary investigations of allegations that might interfere with law enforcement efforts. The procedures for making an allegation of abuse are readily available in printed form and are the subject of periodic public announcements. In this regard, a Recommendation was made that the Diocese develop a complaint receipt form and a complaint checklist. 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 developed effective liaison with local civil authorities to facilitate the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, and all reports received since June 2002 have been reported to civil authorities. As stated previously, a Recommendation was made to withhold any preliminary diocesan investigative activity until law enforcement has conducted investigations, where applicable. A procedure to advise victims/survivors of their right to report allegations of abuse by a member of the clergy to civil authorities is in effect. Clear and well-publicized standards of ministerial conduct for priests and deacons are in effect in the Diocese. The bishop has an open and transparent communications policy regarding issues of sexual abuse of children and young people.
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 full and comprehensive safe environment program, and training of all personnel was scheduled to commence in August 2003. This includes all clergy, diocesan and parish employees, volunteers, and any others who have regular contact with children and young people. Standards of conduct for the aforementioned personnel have been developed and publicized, and the Diocese was commended for these exceptional standards. A program has been established with the Missouri Highway Patrol, which will conduct felony background checks on all personnel. The Diocese has not transferred any member of the clergy who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse made against him to another ministerial assignment, or for purposes of residency in another diocese. The Diocese employs screening and evaluation techniques in deciding the fitness of candidates for ordination. The bishop has a policy to discuss and coordinate with major superiors their separate roles in matters pertaining to sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy of a religious institute who are ministering in the Diocese. There has been no opportunity for the Diocese to participate in conducting research regarding sexual abuse with other churches, faiths, or institutions of learning. Ongoing programs for the formation of priests exist within the Diocese.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was issued three Recommendations and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese develop a complaint receipt form and a complaint checklist to facilitate record keeping.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the diocesan review board not conduct any preliminary investigation that might interfere with law enforcement efforts.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That the Diocese name a second victim assistance coordinator due to the primary coordinator’s extensive travel.
COMMENDATION—For the Diocese’s well-developed standards of conduct.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations have been addressed. The Diocese of Springfield–Cape Girardeau 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