From Tom Doyle:

Capuchins of St. Joseph Province

A bit of background. As you all know the US bishops commissioned a firm, the Gavin Group to conduct an audit of the US dioceses. Every year a similar exercise takes place. The audit really isn't an audit but is more like self-reporting. The data is from the bishops and its mainly about how they have complied with the Dallas Charter. Its a bureaucratic exercise that is primarily a PR endeavor to make the bishops look like they are doing something.

Last year the Capuchin Franciscans of the St. Joseph Province which covers much of the midwest, decided to undertake an independent audit of the files. The idea started with the provincial, Fr. John Celichowski, and the province's director of Pastoral Outreach, Ms Amy Peterson. Fr. John gained the support of the provincial council and then launched the process. As the process unfolded it was expanded to not only review all their personnel files ... of every living, dead or departed Capuchin from the last century to the present ... but to do a critical review of how the province had responded to each and every report of sexual abuse from the earliest available reports in 1932 to the present. The Caps had experienced a very serious event at their seminary when several adult men, former students, revealed in 1992 that they and many others had been sexually abused by friars at the seminary over a long period of time. Perhaps the most important part of the report is the critique of the response to the revelations of this abuse.

The full report is attached. It starts with an executive summary which provides a good picture of the process and the results.

The Capuchins' decision to have this review and their decision to continue the process to the end and then publish the full report is a unique act of commitment to the mission of Christ. No other ecclesiastical entity meaning no diocese or religious order, has done anything remotely similar. We see most bishops and provincials refusing to publish the names of credibly accused clerics. None have opened themselves up to outsiders and allowed them to evaluate how they have handled individual cases, how they have dealt with perpetrators and how they have responded to victims. In the past few years we have seen a total of five bishops publicly side with victims and openly criticize how the church has handled sex abuse: Tom Gumbleton of Detroit, Geoff Robinson of Sydney, Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and most recently, Pat Powers of Canberra and William Morris of Toowoomba. Their witness is remarkable but it must be said that they are all acting on their own and not in the name of any ecclesiastical entity although Archbishop Martin is still a sitting archbishop so it could be argued if his remarks are entirely personal. Be that as it may, the Capuchin review and report is the first time an ecclesiastical entity ... an entire church organization ... did something diametrically opposed to covering up and dodging responsibility.

The hope is that their example will be followed by other religious orders. Its probably way too much to expect any bishop to open his diocese up to an authentic outside review.

My best to all. Tom

Read the Report Here.