DIOCESE OF FT. WAYNE-SOUTH BEND IN
See Cathy Lynn Grossman, Survey:
More Clergy Abuse Cases Than Previously Thought (2/10/04) with AP
of data for 74 dioceses.
I understand that this study is to be made public on Jan. 6, 2004. It will indicate those dioceses which are in compliance with the charter, and those which are not. In an article in the Nov. 9, 2003 issue of our diocesan newspaper, Today's Catholic, reprinted in our three major newspapers, I have already shared with the people of our diocese the substance of the preliminary report given by the two auditors who conducted the audit of our diocese this past August. This report found us to be in full compliance, with several commendations for what we have done and no recommendations for changes to our procedures.
Also, two articles in the charter (Articles 8 and 9) were written to insure the accountability of our procedures. I draw your attention to the following words.
To understand the problem more fully and enhance the effectiveness of our future response, the National Review Board will commission a comprehensive study of the causes and context of the current crisis. The board will also commission a descriptive study, with the full cooperation of our dioceses/eparchies, of the nature and scope of the problem within the Catholic Church in the United States, including such data as statistics on perpetrators and victims.
The report on those studies is scheduled to be made public in late February 2004. The first, commissioned by the National Review Board (made up entirely of Catholic laity), under the authority given by the bishops, will study and report on the nature and scope of this crisis. The National Review Board commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is part of City University of New York, to do this study, which consists of a survey of all dioceses in this country. Our diocese has replied in full to this inquiry. I understand that this is to be a national study on the nature and scope of this crisis, but will not refer to the specifics of any one diocese.
The other study, to be released on the same day, has been undertaken directly by the National Review Board, and so far consists of hundreds of interviews across the country. At the request of the bishops, this National Review Board study probes the context and causes of this crisis. I was invited to be interviewed by a committee of this board, which included Justice Anne M. Burke of the Illinois Appellate Court, the interim chair of the National Review Board, and attorney Robert Bennett. I was pleased to meet with them in Chicago for a wide-ranging conversation on this topic, which was especially related to the letters I wrote in Boston, to my seminary work and to my experience in this diocese.
The local church of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Each diocese/eparchy will develop a communications policy that reflects a commitment to transparency and openness. Within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved, diocese/eparchies will deal as openly as possible with members of the community.
In order that this report will be as complete as possible, as I pledged previously, we have reviewed all parish annual reports as well as diocesan files of priests who have served in this diocese from 1950 until the present time. This is more expansive by one year than the period of time covered by the John Jay College survey, which covered 1950 to 2002. From 1950 to 2002, a total of 805 priests served in pastoral ministry in the diocese. This includes priests who were active or retired during that time. It includes all priests who lived in or served in parishes for any period of time or were involved in pastoral work, such as parishes, hospitals, diocesan schools, etc. This number includes both diocesan priests and priests who are members of religious orders. Each served in some capacity under the diocesan bishops assignment.
Number of priests against whom
(In addition to the 16, there was one credible accusation against a priest which referred to sexual abuse of someone not a minor. I wish to include reference to this accusation because the circumstances and the nature of the act made it, in my opinion, a serious act of sexual abuse, albeit against an adult. The accused priest was removed from ministry. Thus, this brings to 17 the total number of priests reported to the diocese who we have determined were credibly accused of acts of sexual abuse, 16 involving minors.)
There were 11 other priests accused, to one degree or another, of the sexual abuse of a minor during that time frame. Those allegations were either anonymous or so vague that a full and fair investigation was impossible, or it was determined, after a full and fair investigation, that the charges were without foundation. One of those priests was also exonerated through the civil court process when it was determined that there was no credible evidence presented to support the claims made against him.
Of the 16 priests against whom accusations of the sexual abuse of a minor were found to be credible, 14 were diocesan priests and two were members of religious congregations serving in this diocese.
How many people have come forward claiming to have been abused by one of these 16 priests? Painfully, it must be declared that a total number of 33 such people have come forward and their claims have been found to be credible.
Taking into account that 805 priests have served in this diocese from 1950-2002, the 16 priests who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor account for slightly less than 2 percent of the total number. The percentage is small, but unacceptable. One is too many.
Of the 16 priests credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, 12 did so against boys and 4 against girls.
Time frame of occurrence of misconduct
1950s 8 accusers
The diocese has not received a credible complaint involving an act of physical sexual abuse of a minor that was alleged to have occurred after 1987. The events complained of regarding conduct that occurred in the 1990s did not involve physical touching. Those events involved non-touching, flirtatious activity which is prohibited by the charter, and by pre-charter diocesan standards and long-standing sound Catholic moral and spiritual teaching, even though, I am told, such conduct is not violative of civil law. This priest, as well as all the other credibly accused priests who were still alive at the time the accusation was received and investigated, has been removed from ministry. One of those credibly accused had already been suspended from ministry prior to my arrival as bishop of this diocese. His suspension was due to allegations reported to the diocese prior to 1985.
Since May 1, 1985
Fourteen of the 15 priests against whom credible allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor were reported to the diocese since May 1, 1985 were in ministry, active or retired, when I was installed as bishop. One was deceased. Two died after I was installed, but prior to the time that any allegations against them were received by the diocese. One priest was infirm, in a semi-comatose state, when the credible allegation was received. During my time as bishop, all 11 of the other credibly accused priests were removed from ministry, either by requesting and receiving their resignation, laicization, the removal of faculties, or suspension. These actions were taken after reports were made to the diocese and the facts were established. In total, including the priest who had sexually abused the young adult, I have personally removed 12 priests from ministry for reasons related to alleged sexual abuse.
There is no priest now working in the diocese, approved for priestly ministry, against whom any credible accusation of sex abuse has been made.
It also seems appropriate for our people to be made aware of the decades of ordination of the credibly accused priests. That information is provided as follows:
Number of credibly accused priests ordained during the following decades:
The dollar amounts provided below were determined based upon our best knowledge after review of diocesan records. We believe them to be accurate, although we recognize there may be some variance, probably small, due to the large time frame at issue.
From 1985 to 2002, the total amount paid to or for the benefit of individuals who have presented allegations, which includes counseling and other things, was $633,963. Of this amount, insurance paid $384,955. The diocese paid $249,008. This amount certainly has changed and is changing since the diocese is currently providing assistance in the form of counseling to some individuals. The number is growing, albeit not at a substantial rate in recent years.
I also wish to include the amount paid by the diocese for the evaluation and treatment of the accused priests. The total paid for evaluation, counseling and treatment of all accused priests, regardless of whether the priest was credibly accused, was $291,869. The amount of this sum paid by insurance was $85,992. The amount paid by the diocese was $205,877.
It is also appropriate to share the amount paid by the diocese for legal fees related to those allegations received from 1985 to 2002. Legal fees were $437,233. Insurance paid $56,875. Thus, the total amount for legal fees paid by the diocese during that time frame for reasons related to these claims made against priests was $380,358.
Thus, the total amount paid from 1985 to 2002 on all matters related to this crisis is as follows:
Total amount paid: $1,363,065
No monies were ever taken from parish funds to pay any of the above expenses.
No funds were ever taken from the Annual Bishops Appeal to pay any of these expenses. Funds were taken from diocesan reserves and from diocesan investments. No funds have ever been paid by our diocese to any other diocese to assist that other diocese for any reason related to this crisis and this will continue to be our policy.
Complete reports on the financial expenditures were given to the diocesan finance council, which is made up of 11 laity, one sister and one priest, on two occasions over the years. Complete expenditure of funds was also shared at two meetings of our priests, first several years ago and, most recently, last month.
Publicity and policies
I began to shape these policies as soon as I arrived in the diocese. This included the development of procedures for the investigation of allegations against priest(s), and child abuse and neglect policies and procedures for use in our diocesan schools. Those procedures concerning priests have always provided that no priest who is credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor would be allowed to serve in a ministerial capacity in this diocese. These policies and procedures have also mandated that the diocese comply with civil law requirements for reporting incidents of child sexual abuse.
We have always been vigilant of possible reasons to improve our procedures. Indeed, the dioceses procedures have been improved and refined over the years, most recently at the time of the promulgation of the charter. We will continue to work on them and improve them as the need arises. The procedures are on our Web site, www.diocesefwsb.org.
Father Robert C. Schulte, vicar general and diocesan assistance coordinator, has had 45-50 meetings and telephone conversations with those who claim this victimization. Prior to Father Schulte becoming vicar general, Msgr. J. William Lester, P.A. and Msgr. James J. Wolf had met with many accusers. Mrs. Terri Johns, who assists us, has also begun to meet with those bringing such claims.
All of the claims that we have received in recent years involve things alleged to have occurred many years ago, some of them about priests who have died. Seven of the claimants were moved to come forward about such events when the national publicity grew in the past few years. This does not reduce our willingness to share the compassion and love of Christ and also to express our most profound regret. Nor does it lessen our resolve to hear others who may claim to have been victimized in this fashion, no matter when the misconduct is alleged to have occurred. Our Web site contains contact information to assist anyone who wishes to report a claim to Father Schulte. We have placed similar announcements in our parish bulletins on two occasions over the last four months.
Concluding words on the past
I extend to all the Catholics of the diocese and all people of good will my sorrow that this has taken place. I take joy in the fact that there has been no credible accusation of physical sexual involvement with a minor made against any priest of this diocese ordained after 1986, and that the last physical sexual abuse reported in our diocese was alleged to have occurred in 1987.
Young men who show signs that they will not be able to integrate their
sexuality into the priestly vocation should not be admitted until there
are such positive signs. Thus, there must be evidence that a man will
be able to resist the need for sexual gratification without suppressing
any area of his humanity. So a man who seems unable to come to heterosexual
maturity should not be admitted.
The life of a priest, by its very nature, requires unselfishness, purity of heart and the ability to integrate the beautiful gift of sexuality into a life of chaste, celibate love.
Thousands of priests throughout the world have shown that such a beautiful life is possible. It is the life being lived by the priests now serving in our diocese.
I can assure our people that the vocational discernment exercised since I have become your bishop and in the future will be of the very highest quality, as church documents have always asked. I close with the following words from the Second Vatican Council:
Notwithstanding the regrettable shortage of priests, due strictness should
always be brought to bear on the choice and testing of students. God will
not allow the church to lack ministers if the worthy are promoted and
those who are not suited to the ministry are guided with fatherly kindness
and in due time to adopt another calling. These should be directed in
such a way that, conscious of their Christian vocation, they will zealously
engage in the lay apostolate.
Bishop D'Arcy addresses sexual abuse
By Jenn Strathman
When Catholic Bishops met in 2002 they developed a charter that requires the church to take a look at the cases of sexual abuse by priests.
Each diocese did a study and Thursday the public learned the results of the Ft. Wayne-South Bend Diocese study.
[Photo Caption: Bishop D'Arcy talked about the impact to the Ft. Wayne-South
He wasn't sure if he should share the details fearing it may open more wounds.
The Bishop wanted light to be shed on abuse in the Church
When light was finally shed on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church Bishop D'Arcy said he was relieved.
Over the years 16 different priests were accused of abusing minors and an adult accused one priest.
A total of 17 different priests were accused, including Father Paul Lebrun, who used to be the Pastor at Little Flower Church in South Bend.
Priests like Lebrun abused 33 different victims in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.
“Most of it is against teenagers and teenage boys and most is homosexuality,” said Bishop D'Arcy.
The focus should be on who the Catholic Church ordains
“I think Vietnam brought some people in that didn't have true vocations to God,” The Bishop commented. "If you don't have a right to be a priest then someone has the responsibility to make sure you don't become a priest. I became known as D'Arcy the hatchet man because I learned in that context."
It was a failure on seminaries and that was a time when the numbers were high, now the number of new priests is low.
D’Arcy says the best way out of this crisis is to ordain people of quality. To find people of quality procedures have changed in the diocese.
Those who have made allegations want to see more changes, like adding a survivor to the board that hears sex abuse allegations.
The abuse cases have cost over one million dollars
The total cost of counseling, settlements and legal fees so far is 1.3 million dollars.
The Bishop says he never thought we would see this, "It’s been devastating to many souls."
"Those affected souls are forcing Catholics to look at who is at the soul of the church,” said Bishop D’Arcy.
The sexual activity accounts for two percent of the Diocese's Priests.
While we heard the local Diocese's report details, it will be January before we hear national results of studies.
Bishop D'Arcy expects those reports to show that most of the abuse took place in the 1980’s.
The last reported case of physical abuse was in 1987.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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