USCCB releases 2018 Annual Report on the Protection of Children and Young People
At the end of May, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released its 2018 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report is based on the findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a specialty consulting firm which conducted the audit.
StoneBridge visited 72 dioceses/eparchies and collected data from 122 others. Regarding compliance with the Charter, the report found that all dioceses/eparchies were found compliant except one, although three eparchies did not participate.
A survey on allegations by CARA was also included in the report. In 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations. This was a significant increase from 2017 because of additional allegations received in the state of New York due to compensation programs. More than nine in ten alleged offenders (92 percent) identified during the survey year were already deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized or missing. Most abuse reported occurred between 1960 and 1990, with a peak in the 1970s.
In May, the Michigan Attorney General announced the indictment of Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo and Timothy Crowley, both of whom served as priests of the Diocese of Lansing and had been previously been removed from ministry after complaints of sexual abuse with a minor.
Bishop Earl Boyea stated, “I welcome today’s action so that the truth can come out and justice may be served. Any priest who commits reprehensible acts against children does grave harm to victims. He betrays the priesthood and the entire Church. I pray that Christ brings healing to all involved.”
Regarding Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo
In 2002, the Diocese of Lansing received a complaint against Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo of sexual abuse involving a minor. After receiving this complaint, Bishop Carl Mengeling removed the priest from ministry and forwarded the complaint to the Genesee County prosecutor. The diocese has requested that Rev. DeLorenzo be laicized (defrocked) and is awaiting a decision from Rome.
The diocese invited victims to come forward and report abuse to civil authorities and to contact the diocese to receive assistance. Since 2002, seven additional complaints for a total of eight were made against Rev. DeLorenzo. The policy of the Diocese of Lansing is to take every complaint to law enforcement. The most recent allegations were brought forward in May 2018 and January 2019. The diocese forwarded the May 2018 allegation to the Genesee County prosecutor and the Burton police. The January 2019 allegation was also forwarded by the diocese to the Genesee County prosecutor and the Michigan Attorney General, who had started a state-wide investigation into clergy sexual abuse.
Regarding Timothy Crowley
In 1993, an allegation was made against then Rev. Timothy Crowley, who was removed from ministry in the Diocese of Lansing by Bishop Kenneth Povish. At that time, Crowley was serving as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Ann Arbor. The Archdiocese of Anchorage later appointed Crowley as its chancellor, despite the Diocese of Lansing warning the archdiocese of these allegations.
After the adoption by U.S. dioceses of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in 2002, Crowley was removed from ministry in the Archdiocese of Anchorage. He has since been laicized (defrocked). In 2003, the Diocese of Lansing shared information with the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s office regarding Crowley; the prosecutor was unable to bring charges.
For information on these priests' past assignments, visit dioceseoflansing.org.
The Diocese of Lansing has a zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse. Those with credible allegations of abuse are removed from ministry. The diocese is aware of no one currently active in ministry within the diocese who has abused a child. The diocese is committed to cooperating fully with law enforcement so that anyone who harms children can be brought to justice. If anyone has reason to suspect physical, sexual or emotional abuse of any person of any age, please contact Protective Services or the police, as appropriate.
A Time to Heal retreat
A healing retreat was held for victim/survivors of sexual abuse by clergy at the St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt in early May. These days were intended to affirm the impact of such abuse on survivors, provide a faith-based healing experience and connect survivors to a community invested in supporting each other’s healing.
The retreat was facilitated by Cheryl Williams-Hecksel, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese, along with a team that included a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and mental health counselors. Bishop Boyea joined the retreat and listened to survivors share about the impact the abuse has had on them, their families and their faith. This session concluded with Bishop Boyea providing an apology on behalf of the Church, and acknowledging the lasting wounds of the abuse. Father David Rosenberg, director of the retreat center, also served on the team and celebrated a healing Mass at the conclusion of the two-day retreat.
The retreatants found it a positive experience and expressed an interest in continuing to join together for mutual support. This ministry will continue to explore ways to support survivors of sexual abuse through additional retreats and opportunities to join together in a community of healing. For more information on upcoming retreats, contact Cheryl Williams-Hecksel at 888.308.6252 or [email protected].
Praying for Healing
God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:
You gave your only Son
To save us by the blood of his cross.
Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust
placed in them.
Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your peoples' wounds
and transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom,
humility and grace,
so that we may act with justice
and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.