Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Official: The Gavin Group’s audit report for the Diocese of Spokane

The Gavin Group

(From the Jan. 15, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

(Editor's note: The Diocese of Spokane released the preliminary findings of its audit by The Gavin Group in November 2003. The auditors visited the diocese to ask specific questions regarding the diocese's response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States. Here is the Spokane Diocese's official report, as posted on the web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB organized and paid for the audit of all dioceses of the United States.)

The Diocese of Spokane (“the Diocese”), which was established in 1913, encompasses 13 counties in eastern Washington. The Diocese consists of 83 parishes, one seminary and 17 schools. There are 48 deacons and 84 diocesan priests who serve a population of 66,274 registered Catholics. The Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, who was installed as bishop in 1990, leads the Diocese. A compliance audit of the Diocese was conducted during the period of October 27-31, 2003.

The information set forth below represents conditions as they were found during the week of the audit.

FINDINGS

• To 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 Mary Butler, who is a retired registered nurse and hospital administrator. The diocesan review board, which was established in 1988 and was reconstituted in 2002, consists of eight members, including one priest and seven respected members of the lay community. The procedures for making a complaint of abuse are readily available in printed form. The Diocese was commended for the excellence of a brochure setting forth these procedures in both Spanish and English. There have been no confidentiality agreements entered into by the Diocese since June 2002, unless requested by victims/survivors.

• 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 was commended for the excellence of its interaction with civil authorities, including the establishment of a protocol for the reporting of all allegations received, regardless of when the alleged incident occurred. 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 a self-developed safe environment program, consisting of ongoing presentations to all diocesan and parish personnel who have regular contact with children. Presentations appropriate for children are also a part of the program. 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 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 a ministerial assignment. In one case where a priest relocated to another diocese for purposes of residence, the bishop of that diocese was notified and confidentially provided all information relating to allegations of sexual abuse of a child by the priest. The bishop of Spokane, 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 established formation programs for priests.

COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE CHARTER

As of December 1, 2003, the Diocese of Spokane was found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2 in Section I. The Diocese was issued two Commendations.

• COMMENDATION 1—For the excellence of a brochure, written in Spanish and English, setting forth the procedures for reporting incidents of sexual abuse.

• COMMENDATION 2—For the establishment of a protocol with the Spokane Police Department calling for the reporting of all allegations of sexual abuse received by the Diocese, regardless of how long ago the alleged event took place.

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.


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