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

A Letter from your Bishop

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I continue to reflect on the painful crisis we now face in the church, caused by the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by Archbishop McCarrick and in light of the recent grand jury report in the State of Pennsylvania, which details the unspeakable abuse caused by priests and the cover up of bishops over seven decades, I feel compelled to respond in a way that will bring forth for all entrusted with leadership in our wounded Church the graces we bishops need to restore the trust of our good people.

I have been reflecting on the Gospel text from Mark 9: 14 -29, which tells the story of how the disciples had been asked to expel a horrid and powerful demon which had taken possession of young boy. When the disciples couldn’t help the boy, they brought him to Jesus. The demon threw the boy into convulsions, and even into fire. Jesus rebuked the demon and it immediately left the boy, who was helped to his feet and restored to his family. When the disciples asked why they could not do it, Jesus said that this kind can only be expelled by prayer. We face a powerful and destructive demon at work the Church today, which has led some, who have been entrusted with the care of souls, priests and even bishops to abuse children and young adults. This abuse has scandalized so many in the church and it is time for this to end. We have and must continue to develop clear, transparent and effective policies and procedures to address this crisis; we must also rely on prayer; intense and frequent prayer. Prayer coupled with fasting will drive this demon out and restore the peace that we so long for in our Church. We who allowed this demon to wreak havoc in our hearts, the bishops, must also do penance and make reparation.

To that end, it is my intention to fast and pray on the First Friday of each month for the foreseeable future, perhaps for the remainder of my episcopal ministry. I intend to fast using the guidelines of the Good Friday fast and to spend my daily holy hour on that day in reparation for my sins and in particular for the sins and crimes of bishops, priests and religious who have abused minors and young adults in any way. While I would never be so bold as to expect others to adopt this practice, I would wholeheartedly welcome others to join me especially our priests and religious, if the Spirit of God so inspires them. Together, we can enlist ourselves as warriors in God’s army to combat this powerful and destructive demon of our times.

In addition to this pledge of prayer and fasting, I want to apologize with all my heart for the crimes and sins of the bishops. While I did not personally cause any of this damage, I share a deep pain of shame and guilt for the harm, damage and dismay all of this has caused, to the victims, to their families and to all in the Lord’s flock. In your charity, please pray for me, for our Holy Father and for all bishops, for now we need your prayers more than ever. God bless you all.

Your humble and most unworthy servant and bishop,

Bishop Carl A. Kemme

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.