The Diocese of Worcester (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1950, encompasses the territory of Worcester County, Massachusetts. The Diocese consists of 126 parishes and 26 schools, has 244 diocesan priests and 76 deacons, and serves a population of 390,657 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend Daniel P. Reilly, who was installed as bishop in 1994, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of June 23-27, 2003.
The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese has established an outreach program. The bishop, or his designee, has met or offered to meet with victims/survivors of abuse in the Diocese who reported the abuse after June 2002. The victim assistance coordinator is Frances Nugent, who works within the diocesan office for healing and prevention, the director of which is Patricia O’Leary Engdahl. A pastoral care committee was established in 1992, was renamed the diocesan review committee in 2002, and consists of 18 members, including clergy and lay representatives of the legal, medical, social work, education, and business communities. A Commendation was issued for the proactive involvement of this committee in the development of policy and procedures relating to sexual abuse of minors. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. 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. 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. At the time of the audit, the Diocese was in the final stages of preparing a code of conduct for priests and deacons for the approval of the bishop. 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. The Diocese was commended for the excellence of its communications policy and procedures.
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 and implemented, in cooperation with the Department of Social Services, a safe environment program, consisting of training presentations for parents, clergy, employees, and volunteers who have regular contact with children. The Diocese was in the final stages of preparation of 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 is conducting background evaluations 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 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 ongoing formation programs for priests.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Worcester was issued two Commendations.
COMMENDATION 1—For the excellence of the Diocese’s communications policy and procedures reflecting the bishop’s commitment to openness and transparency in dealing with issues of sexual abuse of minors.
COMMENDATION 2—For the proactive involvement of the diocesan review committee in advising the bishop in matters of sexual misconduct of the clergy, and for its role in the creation of policy and procedures to deal effectively with the problem of sexual abuse of minors.
As of December 1, 2003, the Diocese of Worcester was 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