A Pledge to Heal

"I will continue my commitment to you as your bishop that every instance of an allegation of sexual abuse of minors by anyone representing the church be they bishop, priest, or laity will be addressed professionally, transparently, fairly, and thoroughly according to the norms of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, so the light of truth will shine on this dark and painful wound in the Church and in the world."
- Bishop Carl A. Kemme

Protection of Youth Clergy Disclosures

Letter from Bishop in Regards to Clergy Disclosures

Mensaje del obispo sobre la publicación de los nombres de los clérigos

Dear Friends,

After much prayer and discernment, I am publishing today the names of nine priests of the Diocese of Wichita, who have substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. An additional six priests are also named, who though not priests of the Diocese, served in the diocese for a time and who are named on similar lists elsewhere. Their names, ordination dates, assignment histories and current status are now available on our diocesan website. This information will also appear in the next edition of the Catholic Advance.

I am publishing this information after a comprehensive and independent audit of all clergy files. This audit was conducted over several months by Mr. Stephen Robison, a non-Catholic with many years of experience in criminal and civil investigations of Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson and Kitch, Attorneys at Law. Over 1300 files were carefully reviewed. As requested, I will soon provide information regarding these substantiated allegations to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is currently conducting a statewide investigation of Catholic priests.  

Now, please allow me to address three important groups, related to this information.  

First and foremost, to the survivor victims and to their families, I express my most sincere and deepest apologies for the suffering you may have experienced due to these criminal, sinful and horrific acts by priests of this diocese. I acknowledge that trust in our priests and their bishops was severely damaged and, in some cases, destroyed completely. Since my arrival here as bishop and especially throughout this painful process, you have often been the focus of my thoughts and prayers. I pray that God will give you the healing and peace that only God can provide. I ask that our community of faith remember you in prayer.

I recognize that there may be some survivors who have not yet come forward to reveal their abuse. I encourage you to contact civil authorities, the local police department of your jurisdiction, the District Attorney of your county or the Kansas Bureau of Investigations so that a thorough investigation can be initiated. You are also encouraged to contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita at 316-269-3945. We are prepared to receive your information and to assist you through this process.    

Secondly, to the Catholic Community of the Diocese of Wichita for which I am now a bishop and a spiritual father let me express to you my deep feelings of closeness to each of you as we face together this painful part of our history. Some will question why this was necessary. To them, I simply say that we cannot bury our past or hide from it, no matter how painful and shameful it might be. Owning our past is the first step in building a new future, one in which we will continue to diligently work hard as we have been for many years now, so that these violations to human dignity will never happen again. Many of the faithful will no doubt experience great anger in receiving this information. I share that anger. This anger is justified for no one should be harmed, let alone at the hands of a priest. I hope that this anger however will help us all to be more resolved to live honorable and holy lives, especially those of us in Church ministry.    Some will experience sadness or even shock in learning the names of priests who may have had a positive impact in their lives in some way. Others will no doubt question whether or not they can remain active members of our community. These are honest questions coming from the tragedy of this crisis. I urge us to place all of this at the feet of Jesus in prayer and to walk through this time with faith, hope and love. As a community of believers, let us keep uppermost in our hearts and prayers, the survivors of sexual abuse. Let us pray for them daily; I encourage prayers for all survivors of sexual assault to be offered by the many faithful adorers who go day after day to our adoration chapels so that the Lord of all love, healing and compassion will heal their hearts and souls and restore peace to our diocese.  

Finally, to my brother priests in service now to the diocese of Wichita, I wish to confirm my confidence in you and your pastoral ministry to our people. This list of priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors presents a particular challenge to our ministry. You have my support and prayers. I invite us in this time, we the clergy, to make reparation and to do penance for the sins of our brother priests. Above all, let us support one another in our common fraternity as priests as we work to renew the dignity of the priesthood.   I commend you now and, in the days, ahead, to the loving intercession of Mary the Mother of Priests, who watched her own son bear the terrible weight of the cross. With a renewed commitment, I urge us, as we did on the day of our ordination to give ourselves entirely to our life and ministry and to live and fulfill our promises and vows with heartfelt integrity and honor.

Jesus often told his disciples “Be not afraid.” I offer the same message to each of you. “Be not afraid.” Though understandably embarrassed and ashamed by allegations, let us not fear the path ahead, for God has not abandoned or forsaken his church, especially at times of great crisis and pain. Thank you, one and all for your faith, your support and your prayers.  

May God bless you with his abundant grace and healing love.

+The Most Reverend Carl A. Kemme D.D.
Bishop of Wichita

Facts Around the Abuse Crisis

The nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002

Research Conducted by John Jay College

The clergy sex abuse scandal unfolding in the news today is the same public scandal that erupted with national media reports in 2002 (beginning in Boston). It is likely, but no one can be sure, that the cases in the grand jury report have already been present in existing allegation totals (reports to the John Jay researchers are cited as a source for information about allegations in the grand jury report). Just as then, the abuse in the headlines most often occurred in the 1960s through the 1980s.

Have new allegations of abuse increased?

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has collected the numbers of new allegations of sexual abuse by clergy since 2004. CARA’s studies, through 2017, include 8,694 allegations. The distribution of cases reported to CARA are nearly identical to the distribution of cases, over time, in John Jay’s results.

In the last three years, 22 allegations of abuse occurring during 2015-2017 have been made. This is an average of about seven per year nationwide in the Church. That is far too many. Nothing is acceptable other than zero.

 

The nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002

Research Conducted by John Jay College

The clergy sex abuse scandal unfolding in the news today is the same public scandal that erupted with national media reports in 2002 (beginning in Boston). It is likely, but no one can be sure, that the cases in the grand jury report have already been present in existing allegation totals (reports to the John Jay researchers are cited as a source for information about allegations in the grand jury report). Just as then, the abuse in the headlines most often occurred in the 1960s through the 1980s.

Have new allegations of abuse increased?

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has collected the numbers of new allegations of sexual abuse by clergy since 2004. CARA’s studies, through 2017, include 8,694 allegations. The distribution of cases reported to CARA are nearly identical to the distribution of cases, over time, in John Jay’s results.

In the last three years, 22 allegations of abuse occurring during 2015-2017 have been made. This is an average of about seven per year nationwide in the Church. That is far too many. Nothing is acceptable other than zero.

2019 USCCB efforts

Catholic Diocese of Wichita Statistics

Catholic Diocese of Wichita Program Support

Virtus Training

Members of the clergy, religious, employees and each volunteer who has regular contact with a minor is required to attend a live awareness session called Protecting God’s Children for Adults. This session, provided by certified VIRTUS Facilitators, gives participants an awareness of the signs of child sexual abuse, the methods and means by which abusers commit abuse and 5 concrete steps to create safe environments and to prevent abuse.

All clergy and employees must complete ongoing online training in the form of a monthly bulletin with a question. Each parish, school, or ministry is required to monitor bulletin completion of their employees several times a year.

Over 2,600 Sessions have been held since 2002; over 260 were held in 2018.

We currently have over 34000 active accounts in VIRTUS, around 2800 were trained in 2018.

We have 108 VIRTUS Facilitators on our roster.

Background Checks

Members of the clergy, religious, employees and each volunteer who has regular contact with a minor must also go through a background check.

Background checks are renewed every five years.

Backgrounds are checked through KBI, KASPER and NSOPW websites.

Code of Ethical Standards

It is required that all clergy, employees and each volunteer who has contact with minors sign the Code of Ethical Standards to acknowledge receipt and to confirm adherence.

Our Code of Ethical Standards was updated, effective January 1, 2019.

Charter Review Board

The Charter Review Board meets quarterly to review safe environment related policy and to advise the Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by diocesan personnel.

The majority of the Charter Review Board members are made up of laypersons not employed by the diocese. Professions represented in the board include a member of law enforcement, licensed psychologist, medical professional, social worker, and a parish pastor.

Parish Audits

The Office of Safe Environment conducts visits to assess how parishes are implementing the safe environment policy and to give them an opportunity to ask questions and share their current best practices.