OF TYLER TX
Accused Priests: 2 (of which 1 was "completely exonerated" and the other sentenced to life in prison)
Total Priests: NA
Alleged Victims: NA
Cost: $150,000, covered by insurance
Territory: The diocese of Tyler was separated from the dioceses of Dallas, Beaumont, and Galveston-Houston in 1987. Data are for 1987-2002, apparently.
See Cathy Lynn Grossman, Survey: More Clergy Abuse Cases Than Previously Thought (2/10/04) with AP table of data for 74 dioceses.
See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.
Diocese of Tyler
Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors
In June 2002 the Bishops of the United States approved the document Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the document Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons. Both documents were finalized at the Bishop’s Meeting in November 2002 and the Vatican appointed Commission reviewed the Essential Norms part of the documents and gave Vatican approval to the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons in December 2002. The policy and guidelines for Ethics and Integrity for Church Personnel in the Diocese of Tyler were put into effect on March 1, 2003 . “Church personnel” in the policy refers to priests, deacons, religious, paid employees, and those volunteers who minister to minors or vulnerable adults.
Part of the commitment of the Bishops of the United States was to participate in two studies: an audit of each diocese on how they were complying with the charter and a survey to understand the nature and scope of child sexual abuse by clergy over the past 50 years. The results are to be released in early 2004. Below is an update on the child protection efforts in the Diocese of Tyler.
1. What has the Diocese of Tyler done regarding child protection?
The Diocese of Tyler was established in February 1987. One of the first acts of Bishop Charles Herzig was to establish a policy on sexual abuse of minors by clergy. This policy was updated in 1993 by Bishop Edmond Carmody and was again updated in light of the new charter by Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio , S.J. in March 2003. The policy of the Diocese of Tyler Ethics and Integrity for Church Personnel is a comprehensive policy that goes well beyond the requirements of the Charter by requiring all church personnel to commit themselves to live by the gospel of Jesus not only to avoid doing something wrong but to act with ethics and integrity in all Church ministry.
2. What has been the scope of the situation in the Diocese of Tyler?
Since 1987 when the Diocese of Tyler was established (it was separated from the Diocese of Dallas, Diocese of Beaumont and the Diocese of Galveston-Houston) two priests have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors, one was completely exonerated, and the other is serving a life prison sentence. In accord with the Charter, there is no priest serving in ministry in the Diocese of Tyler who has had a credible allegation of misconduct with minors made against him.
3. What is offered to those who make an allegation of misconduct?
The priority of the policies of the Diocese of Tyler when someone has been hurt is to help that person heal. While child abuse exists throughout society, when a member of the clergy is involved, it can be particularly painful because it is a violation of a sacred trust. The diocese has offered and will continue to offer pastoral support and counseling when someone makes an allegation that is credible. Each person’s needs are different and the diocese will work to meet their needs, while respecting their privacy.
4. What has been the cost of abuse of minors in the Diocese of Tyler?
Even a single incident of abuse of a minor carries an immeasurable human and spiritual cost. Only the love of Jesus Christ can bring healing and peace to those affected by abuse. The Diocese of Tyler is committed to helping the healing process for the victims, their families, and their church community.
Over the sixteen year history of the Diocese of Tyler the monetary cost has been approximately $150,000.00, which was covered by insurance. No parish/mission or services of the diocese have been financially affected. None of the funds, which have been paid in the past, have come from individual contributions, parish/mission collections or from the Bishop’s Appeal.
5. What should I do if I have not reported abuse I experienced?
The diocese encourages anyone who has experienced abuse to report it to the proper civil authorities and to the diocese. Contact information for both civil and church reporting is in the Diocese of Tyler’s Policy Ethics and Integrity for Church Personnel, Section VII. The policy is available online at www.dioceseoftyler.org . The diocesan Promoter of Justice, Father Gavin Vaverek, JCL, can be reached by calling 903-266-2159. The State of Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services may be contacted at 800-252-5400.
6. What has the diocese done to implement its policy?
As of November 1, all those involved with programs in the Diocese are expected to have an Acceptance Certificate for Service (ACS). Over 2300 people in the diocese have been issued an ACS, as of December 1, 2003. This includes the priests, deacons, vowed religious, employees and those lay volunteers whose ministry includes contact with minors. These people have been trained in our policy of Ethics and Integrity for Church Personnel, they have personally committed to the Code of Ethics, and they have cooperated with a background check. Additional training will be provided on an ongoing basis.
Those interested in having a copy of the policy can print one online at www.dioceseoftyler.org , or they may request a copy of the policy by contacting the diocesan business office at 903-534-1077 or writing to the Diocese of Tyler 1015 ESE Loop 323 Tyler, TX 75701.
7. What was the result of the external auditors review of the diocese’s compliance with the provisions of the Charter?
As part of the nation wide audit of compliance with the Charter, a team of auditors conducted an audit here July 28-August 1, 2003 . The auditors made one minor recommendation for a clarification in the policy, which was immediately addressed. The final report states: “As of December 1, 2003, the recommendation has been addressed. The Diocese of Tyler is found to be compliant with the provisions of the Charter as measured by the process described in Chapter 2.”
The auditors gave the diocese two commendations:
“ Commendation #1 - For developing and adopting a written policy targeting the healing and reconciliation of victims/survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy prior to June 2002.”
“Commendation #2 - For establishing a very open and transparent communications policy as it relates to sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.
8. What if a program in a parish, mission, or Catholic School is not in compliance with the policy? Or what should be done if a person suspects misconduct by someone who ministers for the Church?
It takes time to create a culture that is safe for all those who come to the Church. The Diocese of Tyler is committed to creating a positive environment for all God’s children. We appreciate your cooperation by bringing possible concerns to the attention of the principal, the pastor, or the Promoter of Justice. The Promoter of Justice can be reached at email@example.com or 903 266-2159.
Further information can be found at www.dioceseoftyler.org/conduct
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.