The Diocese of Wichita (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1887, encompasses 25 counties in Kansas, consists of 90 parishes and 36 schools, has 128 diocesan priests and two deacons, and serves a population of 115,482 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, who was installed as bishop in 2001, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of July 14-18, 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.
To Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program, consisting of pastoral care for victims/survivors and affected parishes. It was recommended that this program be committed to written form. The bishop has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese. The victim assistance coordinator is Katherine Lambertz. The diocesan review board was established in 2000 and consists of seven members, including two priests and five respected members of the lay community. The Diocese was commended for taking the initiative to establish a board prior to the requirements of the Charter. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse were not readily available in printed form. A Recommendation was made for the Diocese to develop and promulgate such procedures and also to make them the subject of periodic public announcements. 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 established effective liaison with local civil authorities, ensuring an open dialogue regarding sexual abuse allegations. It was recommended that the Diocese update its Policy on the Suspected Abuse of Children. The Diocese 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 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 for adults and 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. The Diocese conducts background investigations for all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with minors. 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 and has an ongoing formation program for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the Charter
At the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Wichita was issued three Recommendations and one Commendation.
RECOMMENDATION 1—That the Diocese commit its outreach program to written form.
RECOMMENDATION 2—That the Diocese finalize the update of its Policy on Suspected Abuse of Children.
RECOMMENDATION 3—That procedures for filing a complaint of sexual abuse be made readily available in printed form and be the subject of periodic public announcements.
COMMENDATION—For the Diocese’s proactive approach to the formation of a review board, the “Oversight Board,” prior to adoption of the Charter.
As of December 1, 2003, all Recommendations had been addressed. The Diocese of Wichita 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