TThe Diocese of Youngstown (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1943, encompasses six counties in the northeastern part of Ohio and serves a Catholic community of 235,541 registered parishioners and 116 parishes. There are 118 active diocesan priests, 68 permanent deacons, 42 elementary schools, six high schools, and one university in the Diocese. The Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin has served as bishop since February 1996. A compliance audit was conducted during the period of August 18-22, 2003.
The following describes conditions evident during the week of the audit.
FindingsTo Promote Healing and Reconciliation
The Diocese was commended for its foresight and long-established sexual abuse prevention policy and outreach program, developed in 1994, revised in 1999, and most recently revised in March 2003. The bishop or his designee has met or has offered to meet with victims/survivors and has met with the family of a victim/survivor. Nancy Yuhasz is the initial point of contact for persons reporting allegations. A review board, initially established in 1994, has since expanded to 15 members and comprises diverse, highly qualified professional, lay, and religious persons to provide confidential counsel to the Diocese. The Diocese was commended for the creation and enhancement of the board. Informative, widely broadcast procedures for reporting allegations of abuse by clergy are available. No confidentiality agreements have been entered into by the Diocese since June 2002.
To Guarantee Effective Response to Allegations of Abuse of a Minor
No instance of abuse by clergy of a minor has been reported since June 2002, and allegations previously reported have been referred to relevant civil authorities. A variety of documents addresses ministerial conduct and appropriate boundaries. The Diocese was commended for the implementation of a far-reaching communications initiative demonstrating openness and transparency to the northeastern Ohio audience, including the effective use of the website.
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 had a safe environment program and a broad-ranging background evaluation requirement since 1994. Screening and evaluation procedures are used to consider the fitness of candidates for ordination. The Diocese has not transferred any priest or deacon who has had a credible allegation of sexual abuse lodged against him to another ministerial assignment in another diocese. When any such priest has moved outside of the Diocese, the bishop of the new diocese has been advised of the priest’s background. 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 bishop has met with Children's Services and other religious denominations on sexual abuse prevention and protection of youth matters. Systemic formation of priests is ongoing throughout the year.
Compliance with the Provisions of the CharterAt the conclusion of this audit, the Diocese of Youngstown was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I and was issued three Commendations.
COMMENDATION 1—For the implementation of a far-reaching communications initiative reflecting a high degree of openness and transparency.
COMMENDATION 2—For the progressive development of a sexual abuse prevention program in 1994 that included pastoral outreach and required background evaluations of diocesan personnel.
COMMENDATION 3—For the creation of a review board in 1994 and communicating the identity of board members to the public.
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