On May 9, 2019, Pope Francis issued a Motu proprio, a mandate directed to the Universal Church, as a follow up to the meeting held in Rome in February with bishops from around the world, including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Galveston-Houston. This Motu proprio, Vos estis lux mundi, which translates You are the Light of the World, orders a response to the scourge of sexual abuse in the world, and especially in the church by her clerics.
- Click here to read Vos estis lux mundi in English.
- Click here to read Vos estis lux mundi in Spanish.
Independent Review Board
The Independent Review Board reviews reports of child sexual abuse by church personnel and all actions taken by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to ensure the integrity of the archdiocesan process for responding to reports of child sexual abuse. The church mandate and operational guidelines for the board can be found in the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. [LINK https://www.usccb.org/offices/child-and-youth-protection/charter-protection-children-and-young-people). The Independent Review Board advises the archbishop of its assessment of allegations of child sexual abuse and its determination of a clergy member’s suitability for ministry, serving as a confidential consultative body.
The Independent Review Board receives notification of all allegations of child sexual abuse, child pornography, sexual misconduct with minors and sexual misconduct involving vulnerable adults or an abuse of authority by church personnel. Additionally, the archbishop may seek advice from the Independent Review Board on other matters. The Independent Review Board can review matters both retrospectively and prospectively and give advice on all aspects of responses in connection with these cases.
When advising the archbishop on the assessment of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, theb will hear a presentation of the investigation by the investigator and the board may ask for any additional information that is needed.
The Independent Review Board will provide advice and feedback on the investigation, making an assessment of whether or not the allegations appear to be credible. It will also provide a recommendation as to the accused’s fitness for ministry when applicable.
The Independent Review Board will review actions taken by the archdiocese to ensure that the archdiocese is in compliance with the archdiocesan child and youth protection policies and procedures, periodically reviewing this policy and its procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of minors. The board will make recommendations to the archbishop for any proposed change or modification. The Independent Review Board will regularly review and offer advice on the archdiocesan child and youth protection policies and procedures. The Independent Review Board is composed of at least five persons, a majority of whom are laity who are not in the employment of the archdiocese. The members of the board are selected by the archdiocese on the basis of their maturity, integrity, credibility, and ability to exercise good and independent judgment.
Currently, the board has seven active members, all with different areas of expertise in sexual abuse and an appropriate response. The current members include professional counselors, lawyers, retired law enforcement, and a pastor. Archdiocesan staff members who are not members of the Independent Review Board may serve in a consultative role. At least one member shall have expertise in the treatment of the sexual abuse of minors. One member shall be a survivor of sexual abuse. All members shall be Catholics with expertise in various fields, capable of providing insight into sexual abuse allegations.
The board meets regularly to review reports and policy. Those alleging harm from abuse as well as the accused will be invited to meet with the Independent Review Board.
List of substantiated allegations of clergy sexual abuse of a minor
[LINK NEW URL https://…list-clergy-sexual-abuse]
Frequently Asked Questions
I can reassure you that no priest exercising public ministry in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has had a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor made against him. If new information comes to light, the list will be updated and any priest with a substantiated allegation will be removed from ministry.
– Archbishop Joseph Naumann
Q. What information is included on your list of substantiated allegations of clergy abuse of a minor? Whose names are on the list?
A. This list contains the names of the clergy members against whom a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor (a young person under the age of 18) has been received by the Archdiocese. The accused might have been a priest of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, a priest of another diocese assigned to work in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, or a member of a religious order assigned to ministry in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Q. How do you define “child sexual abuse”?
A. Sexual abuse of a child, minor or youth means any sexual act to or with a child or other sexual exploitation of a child or other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. The use, creation or possession of child pornographic images constitutes child sexual abuse. For purpose of archdiocesan policies, the term “sexual abuse” is not necessarily limited to the definitions of sexual abuse under civil or criminal law.
Q. What are the criteria for inclusion on the list?
A. Clergy members’ names are included on this list if there was a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse against them. Their inclusion does not necessarily mean they were found guilty of a crime or are liable for civil claims. Many of the allegations received by the archdiocese are from decades ago and were reported many years after the alleged abuse, sometimes after the death of the accused.
Q. What do you mean by a substantiated allegation?
A. When a complaint is received, the archdiocese starts with the presumption that the allegation is being brought forward in good faith. The report investigator’s task is to investigate it thoroughly. An allegation is considered “substantiated” when it is corroborated with witness statements, documents, emails, photos, texts, or by another source, such as law enforcement. Obviously, if the accused member of the clergy admits to allegations the accusation is substantiated. However, an allegation can be considered substantiated, even if the accused denied the allegation, when there is corroborating evidence that supports the veracity of the allegation.
No matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred, every effort is made to determine if the allegation can be substantiated.
Q. How many clergy files were reviewed and what time period did they cover?
A. The review included a total of some 1080 individual clergy files going back more than 75 years.
Q. Is this list complete?
A. This list is a complete and accurate representation of the substantiated allegations that have been made to the archdiocese against priests for whom we have files. The list is based on the extensive file review conducted by the independent law firm of Husch Blackwell. The archdiocese has received some historic allegations that could not be substantiated based on the information contained in the file. These are not allegations about anyone currently serving in priestly ministry. The report investigator will be asked to investigate the allegations and present her findings to the Independent Review Board. Once the IRB has made its recommendations, it is possible that names could be added to the current list.
If new information comes to the archdiocese, the list will be updated.
Q. Why was Husch Blackwell chosen to review the files?
A. Husch Blackwell was chosen because of its expertise in this field. The firm has conducted investigations and reviews covering a multitude of circumstances for a number of large religious organizations and public and private educational institutions throughout the United States.
Q. Why were some of these names not made public before now?
A. Many of these names have been made public previously. But some of these allegations were reported decades after the alleged abuse — in some cases, when the accused was deceased. In other instances, the victim requested that the matter not be publicized. The publication of this list, therefore, encompassing more than 75 years of records, is an effort to make all substantiated allegations of sexual abuse — even historical ones — public in the same way the archdiocese has made current ones.
Q. Does the archdiocese work with law enforcement to investigate reports of abuse?
A. Allegations of sexual abuse against children are reported to the appropriate law enforcement and child protection agencies as required by applicable state laws and the archdiocese’s Child Protection policy. Moreover, the archdiocese cooperates with law enforcement in the process of ensuing investigations.
Q. What happens to an allegation of child abuse by a member of the clergy once it is received?
A. The Archdiocese takes all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor seriously. Our staff is dedicated to create a process of healing for victims/survivors by using the restorative justice theory. Law enforcement is notified and the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board conducts an investigation. A more detailed description of our policy for investigations can be found within the Policy to Protect.