Main Site Navigation
Policies and Procedures, Standards of Behavior
For the Protection of Minors and Others
from Sexual Misconduct
by Those Ministering on Behalf of
the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Archdiocese of Indianapolis
1400 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-2367
800-382-9836, ext. 1548
Copyright © 2015 by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
All Rights Reserved
Published by Criterion Press, Inc.
What to expect if you are a victim of sexual misconduct and report the incident to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
If you are a victim of sexual misconduct by a person ministering on behalf of the Church, please contact the archdiocesan victim assistance coordinator, Carla Hill, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, 1400 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, 317-236-1548, or 800-382-9836, ext. 1548.
A report can also be made online at www.archdioceseofindianapolis.ethicspoint.com. You do not have to give you name.
You will be asked to meet with the victim assistance coordinator and, if a cleric is being accused, canon law requires that a priest must also be present at that meeting. The meeting can take place in the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis or at another mutually agreed upon location.
At all times, your report to us will be considered confidential.
You will be asked for relevant details of the incident, such as the name of the accused, the date or approximate date of the incident, and what happened.
The Church is concerned for your spiritual and emotional welfare and wants to help heal whatever spiritual or emotional wounds you may have suffered as a result of the sexual misconduct. Every individual is different in her or his ability to deal with the aftermath of sexual misconduct. Most individuals benefit from professional counseling, and the archdiocese will cover reasonable out-of-pocket costs, in accordance with the Care Plan, for such counseling provided by a licensed trauma-trained therapist with an approved treatment plan.
The Church is also concerned for the safety and well-being of others, especially children. Your courage and cooperation in reporting incidents of sexual misconduct by those ministering on behalf of the Church will help us keep others safe and secure.
If you were younger than 18 when the sexual misconduct occurred, the archdiocese must report the incident to civil authorities. It will be necessary to give your name to those authorities, but they are required by law to hold your identity in confidence.
The victim assistance coordinator will keep you informed as the investigation proceeds and will check in with you or keep you updated through your therapist for as long as needed to see how you are doing.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis takes immediate and decisive action on all accusations of sexual misconduct in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” the “Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons,” long-standing archdiocesan policy, civil law, and Church law.
These policies and procedures deal with sexual misconduct, which is broader than sexual abuse. Sexual misconduct is understood to include sexual abuse, child abuse, child pornography, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation. These policies and procedures also concern themselves with all Church personnel—not just clerics. They pertain to priests and deacons, lay employees, religious, and volunteers working or ministering on behalf of the archdiocese.
In all cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct by Church personnel, it is the policy of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to:
All archdiocesan clergy, employees, and volunteers and religious working on behalf of the archdiocese shall comply with all pertinent reporting Indiana laws and archdiocesan reporting requirements:
Archdiocesan policy requires reporting all suspected or alleged incidents of sexual misconduct to the archdiocese’s victim assistance coordinator (317-236-1548, 800-382-9836, extension 1548, or email@example.com), who serves as the archbishop’s personal representative to victims and the faith communities in which sexual misconduct has occurred. A report can also be made online at www.archdioceseofindianapolis.ethicspoint.com. You do not have to give you name.
AAS: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See), the journal of record of the Holy See
CCEO: Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches): church, or canon, law for the Eastern Catholic Churches, e.g., the Byzantine Catholic Church
CIC: Codex Iuris Canonici (Code of Canon Law)—church, or canon, law for the Western, or Roman, Catholic Church
USCCB: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—the bishops’ conference for the United States of America
Archdiocese: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, including all parishes, schools, agencies, and institutions with direct accountability to the archbishop of Indianapolis.
Care Plan: The Archdiocese will pay for future ongoing, reasonable out-of-pocket (the portion not covered by insurance) medical and counseling expenses (“Treatment Expenses”) from the date of the initial report to the Archdiocese and for a reasonable period thereafter provided the victim/survivor meets the following conditions:
Child/Minor: An individual who has not yet reached his or her 18th birthday.
Child abuse: Any form of intentional or malicious infliction of injury that damages a child’s physical, moral, or mental well-being. Child abuse includes sexual abuse of, or sexual misconduct with, a child or other individual who is legally incompetent.
Church personnel: Any volunteer, employee, religious, or cleric working or ministering on behalf of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
Cleric: an ordained man; a man in holy orders; a deacon (transitional or permanent), priest, or bishop.
Faculties: permission that is required to exercise a specific power of holy orders. For instance, a priest needs faculties, or permission, from an ecclesiastical superior (usually the local bishop) to hear confessions, witness marriages, and preach.
Fiduciary relationship: A relationship of trust in which one person places complete confidence in another. The relationship can be formal and legal as well as moral and personal. In a fiduciary relationship, one party, called the fiduciary, possesses superior knowledge or training compared to the other party whose trust the fiduciary enjoys.
Professional relationship: A relationship between a cleric, religious, employee, or volunteer working or ministering on behalf of the archdiocese and any person to whom such cleric, religious, employee, or volunteer provides counseling, pastoral care, spiritual direction, spiritual guidance, mentoring, teaching, or any fiduciary relationship in which the parties to the relationship receive or exchange confidential or privileged information.
Reason to believe: A person is said to have “reason to believe” an accusation when evidence that, if presented to individuals of similar background and training, would cause those individuals to believe that a person had been abused.
Religious: a man or woman living a consecrated life in community with others under a rule of life recognized by the Church, i.e., brothers, sisters, nuns, and priests who are members of canonically established religious orders, congregations, or religious institutes.
Review Board, Archdiocesan: A confidential advisory body to the archbishop that assists the archbishop in assessing the credibility of allegations of sexual misconduct by Church personnel and in determining the fitness for ministry of Church personnel accused of sexual misconduct. The “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” requires the establishment of a review board in every diocese and eparchy in the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse includes sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a minor and other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. Sexual abuse has been defined by different civil authorities in various ways, and these policies, procedures, and standards of behavior do not adopt any particular definition provided in civil law. Rather, the transgressions in question relate to obligations arising from divine commands regarding human sexual interaction as conveyed to us by the sixth commandment. (1) Thus, the norm to be considered in assessing an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is whether conduct or interaction with a minor qualifies as an external, objectively grave violation of the sixth commandment. (2) A canonical offense against the sixth commandment; and (3) the conduct or interaction need not be a complete act of intercourse. Nor, to be objectively grave, does an act need to involve force, physical contact, or a discernible harmful outcome. Moreover, moral responsibility for a canonical offense is “presumed upon external violation ... unless it is otherwise apparent.”(4) Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the archbishop, with the advice of the Archdiocesan Review Board, to determine the gravity of the alleged act.
Sexual boundary violation: Any behavior that is a violation of any item listed in the Code of Conduct including but not limited to unauthorized communication with minors through social media
Sexual exploitation: The development of—or the attempt to develop—a sexual relationship between a cleric, religious, employee, or volunteer and any person with whom he or she has a pastoral, counseling, mentoring, or other fiduciary relationship. Sexual exploitation exists whether or not an individual consents to the relationship. Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, activities such as intercourse; kissing; touching the breast, genitals, or buttocks; dating during the course of a professional relationship; verbal suggestions of sexual involvement; or sexually demeaning comments.
Sexual harassment: Unwelcome or offensive behavior between individuals because of gender where there is a pastoral, employment, mentoring, fiduciary, counseling, or peer relationship. Such behavior includes but is not limited to sexually oriented humor or language, questions or comments—unrelated to a professional relationship—about sexual behavior or preference, undesired physical contact, inappropriate comments about physical appearance, or repeated requests for social engagements that create an intimidating, hostile, demeaning or offensive environment defined by the professional relationship.
Sexual misconduct: Conduct that includes child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child pornography, sexual boundary violations, or sexual harassment.
Substantiated: An allegation of sexual misconduct is said to be substantiated, or established, when:
Victim Assistance Coordinator: The person appointed by the archbishop to act as his personal representative in the immediate pastoral care of persons who report that they are victims of sexual misconduct by Church personnel.
1 - CIC, c. 1395 §2
2 - USCCB, Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct and Dismissal from the Clerical State, 1995, p. 6
3 - CIC, c. 1395 §2
4 - CIC, c. 1321 §3; Cf. CIC, cc. 1322-1327
Article 1: Pastoral outreach
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis will reach out to victims/survivors and their families and demonstrate a sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being. The first obligation of the Church with regard to victims is for healing and reconciliation. This outreach includes the provision of counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services agreed upon by the victim and the archdiocese. In cooperation with social service agencies and other churches, support groups for victims/survivors and others affected by sexual misconduct will be fostered and encouraged by the archdiocese and its parish communities.
Through pastoral outreach to victims and their families, the archbishop or his personal representative will offer to meet with them, to hear their experiences and concerns, and to share the “profound sense of solidarity and concern” expressed by Pope John Paul II in a 2002 address to the cardinals of the United States and officers of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This pastoral outreach by the archbishop or his delegate will also be directed to faith communities in which the sexual misconduct occurred.
Article 2: Responding to allegations of sexual misconduct
The archdiocese will respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that sexual misconduct involving Church personnel has occurred.
Victim assistance coordinator
An archdiocesan victim assistance coordinator will aid in the immediate pastoral care of persons who report that they are victims of sexual misconduct by Church personnel.
The Archdiocesan Review Board is a confidential advisory body to the archbishop. The majority of its members are lay persons not in the employ of the archdiocese. The board will assist the archbishop in assessing the credibility of allegations and fitness for ministry and will regularly review archdiocesan policies and procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct by Church personnel.
Also, the board can review matters both retrospectively and prospectively and give advice on all aspects of responses required in connection with these cases.
Final decisions with respect to the recommendations of the review board are reserved to the archbishop.
Article 3: Confidentiality agreements
The archdiocese will not enter into confidentiality agreements except for grave and substantial reasons brought forward by the victim/survivor and noted in the text of the agreement.
Article 4: Reporting sexual abuse of minors
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis will report all allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Church personnel to the public authorities. The archdiocese will cooperate in any investigations in accord with the law of the jurisdiction in question.
The archdiocese will fully cooperate with public authorities in reporting cases even when the alleged victim is no longer a minor.
In every instance, the archdiocese will advise victims of their right to make a report to public authorities and will support this right.
Article 5: Sexual misconduct by clerics
When an allegation of sexual misconduct by a priest or a deacon is received, a preliminary investigation, in harmony with canon law, (5) will be initiated and conducted promptly and objectively. The investigative team will include the victim assistance coordinator and the vicar for clergy, religious, and parish life coordinators plus one or more of the following individuals: the director of human resources, archdiocesan attorney, chancellor, and other professionals. If this investigation so indicates, the archbishop will both notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and apply the precautionary measures mentioned in the Code of Canon Law, canon 1722, i.e., relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties.
The alleged offender may be requested to seek, or urged voluntarily to comply with, an appropriate medical and psychological evaluation, so long as this does not interfere with the investigation by civil authorities.
If the accusation has proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the accused.
When sexual misconduct by a priest or a deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the following will pertain:
Article 5.1: Sexual misconduct by nonclerical Church personnel
When the preliminary investigation of a complaint against a noncleric so indicates, the person will promptly be relieved of his or her duties.
The alleged offender may be referred for appropriate medical and psychological evaluation, so long as this does not interfere with the investigation by civil authorities.
If an allegation of sexual misconduct by a lay employee, a volunteer, or a religious brother or sister is substantiated, the Archdiocesan Review Board may recommend to the archbishop that the accused never again be permitted to work or minister on behalf of the archdiocese.
If an accusation has proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the person wrongly accused.
Article 6: Observance of archdiocesan standards of behavior
All Church personnel who have regular contact with children and young people are to strictly observe the Code of Conduct listed in the Appendix.
Article 7: Communications policy
The communications policy of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will reflect a commitment to transparency and openness with regard to sexual misconduct by Church personnel—clerics, religious, employees, and volunteers working on behalf of the archdiocese.
However, this commitment will be carried out with due regard to the respect owed to the privacy and reputations of all persons involved—accused, alleged victims, and others—and with respect to Church law.(7)
News media inquiries regarding allegations of sexual misconduct by Church personnel should be directed to the Catholic Communications Center of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis: 317-236-1585 or 800-382-9836, extension 1585. A copy of the detailed communications procedures is available upon request from the Catholic Communications Center.
5 - CIC, cc. 1717-1719
6 - cf. Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct and Dismissal from the Clerical State, 1995; cf. Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001
7 - Canon 220: No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.
Canon 1717.2: Care must be taken so that the good name of anyone is not endangered from this investigation [preliminary investigation in the penal process].
Article 8: Ongoing safeguards
As a matter of policy:
References shall continue to be required as part of the hiring process. Reference checks must be made on all potential employees.
Through the publication and distribution of these policies, procedures, and standards of behavior and through other means of communications, the archdiocese will make clear to clergy, religious, employees, volunteers, and all members of the community the standards of conduct for persons ministering on behalf of the archdiocese with regard to sexual abuse.
Article 9: Guidelines for transfer of clergy and religious
No priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual misconduct with a minor may be transferred for ministerial assignment to another diocese or religious province. Before a priest or deacon can be transferred for residence in another diocese or religious province, his bishop or religious ordinary shall forward, in a confidential manner, to the local bishop and religious ordinary (if applicable) of the proposed place of residence any and all information concerning any act of sexual misconduct with a minor and any other information that he has been or may be a danger to children or young people. (8)
Article 10: Review of formation programs
The archdiocese will systematically review its priestly and diaconal formation programs in keeping with the recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests (2001) and other pertinent documents so as to assist priests and deacons in the living out of their vocation.
Article 11: Indiana reporting requirements
Indiana law requires that any individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect must report immediately to:
Under Indiana law, it is a criminal act not to make such a report. This law applies to all adults without exception.
In the case of doubt as to whom to notify, call the victim assistance coordinator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis: 317-236-1548 or 800-382-9836, extension 1548.
Article 12: Applicability of policies to religious communities
Priests and other persons belonging to religious orders, congregations, or religious institutes who minister on behalf of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis must also follow archdiocesan reporting procedures regarding sexual misconduct. If a report is made concerning a member of a religious order, congregation, or religious institute, an additional report must be made immediately to the person’s religious ordinary, for example, the provincial. This report will be made by the vicar for clergy, religious, and parish life coordinators unless it has already been made by the alleged victim or his/her family.
8 - Cf. National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Proposed Guidelines on the Transfer or Assignment of Clergy and Religious, 1993
Following a report to the victim assistance coordinator
Upon receipt of a report of an incident involving sexual misconduct, the victim assistance coordinator will immediately take the following steps:
In order to manage the flow of information, gain access to potential sources of information, and analyze and document information concerning an allegation of sexual misconduct, an investigation will be conducted by the Investigative Resource Team. This group serves as staff to the Archdiocesan Review Board and conducts the investigation to assist the board in making its recommendations to the archbishop. The victim assistance coordinator convenes this group, which may consist of the chancellor; an archdiocesan attorney; the vicar for clergy and parish life coordinators; the director of human resources; and other professionals as needed.
The individuals serving as resource team members will be determined on a case-by-case, as-needed basis. If the accused is a cleric, canon law requires that a priest be a member of the resource team.
The review board itself will comprise at least five persons, one of whom is a priest who is an experienced and respected pastor; the majority of the board is comprised of laity who are not in the employ of the archdiocese. These persons, appointed by the archbishop, are to be of outstanding integrity and good judgment and in full communion with the Church. At least one member should have particular expertise in the treatment of the sexual abuse of minors. Members are appointed for five years, which can be renewed.
The archdiocesan promoter of justice or another canonist shall participate in the meetings of the review board.
The work of the review board is confidential.
Here are the general courses of action that may be taken by the Investigative Resource Team after careful review on reported incidents of sexual misconduct by Church personnel. (It should be noted that reports of alleged sexual misconduct by their very nature must be treated as separate and unique incidents. This requires some variation in the course of action taken.)
If the team determines that the reported conduct does not fall within the definitions of sexual misconduct but does potentially represent unprofessional or inappropriate conduct or conduct leading to an impression of impropriety, then the vicar for clergy, religious, and parish life coordinators or the director of human resources will ensure that there is a follow-up discussion with the accused individual. Follow-up action may involve a written warning or loss of employment or volunteer service if there were violations of the Code of Conduct listed in the Appendix. The victim assistance coordinator will also provide support and information to the alleged victim and his/her family regarding archdiocesan procedures pertaining to reports of misconduct and may offer appropriate assistance, including therapy agreed upon by the alleged victim and the archdiocese conducted by a licensed counselor with an approved treatment plan.
If the Investigative Resource Team determines that the reported conduct does, in fact, fall within the definitions of sexual misconduct, the victim assistance coordinator:
Again, if there is reason to believe that the sexual misconduct incident is a case of child abuse, a report to the victim assistance coordinator does not relieve an individual of the obligation of reporting the incident to Child Protective Services (800-800-5556) or local law enforcement agency as required by Indiana law.
Process involving clerics
The Investigative Resource Team, acting as staff to the Archdiocesan Review Board, will prepare a report for the board and present the facts as it has gathered them to the board for review. If the review board substantiates the allegation that a cleric has abused a minor, the board is to notify the archbishop. With this notification, the board may include recommendations on action or actions that the archbishop should eventually take.
If the case and the investigation so warrant, the archbishop will notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that sufficient evidence exists of sexual abuse of a minor and that canonical penal processes should be invoked.
The archbishop shall then apply the precautionary measures mentioned in canon 1722—i.e., removal of the accused from ministry or from any ecclesiastical office or function, imposition or prohibition of residence in a given place or territory, and prohibition of public participation in the Mass—pending the outcome of the process.
The alleged offender may be requested to seek and may be urged voluntarily to comply with, an appropriate medical and psychological evaluation at a facility mutually acceptable to the archdiocese and the accused.
When even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric is admitted or is substantiated after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending cleric is to be permanently removed from ecclesiastical ministry, including dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants.
In every case involving canonical penalties, the processes provided for in canon law must be observed, and the various provisions of canon law must be considered.(9) Unless the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having been notified, calls the case to itself because of special circumstances, it will direct the archbishop how to proceed.(10) If the case would otherwise be barred by prescription (e.g., a statute of limitations), because sexual abuse of a minor is a grave offense, the archbishop shall apply to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a dispensation from the prescription, giving appropriate pastoral reasons for the dispensation request.
For the sake of due process, the accused is to be encouraged to retain the assistance of civil and canonical counsel. When necessary, the archdiocese will supply canonical counsel to a priest or deacon.
If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied (e.g., for reasons of advanced age or infirmity), the offender is to lead a life of prayer and penance. If he is a priest or deacon, he will not be permitted (as appropriate):
The priest or deacon may at any time request a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state. In exceptional cases, the archbishop may request of the Holy Father the dismissal of the priest or deacon from the clerical state ex officio, even without the consent of the priest or deacon.
At all times, the archbishop has at his disposal his executive power of governance, through an administrative act, to remove an offending cleric from office, to remove or restrict his faculties, and to limit his exercise of ministry. Because sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric is a crime in the universal law of the Church (11) and is a crime in all jurisdictions in the United States, for the sake of the common good and observing the provisions of canon law, the archbishop shall exercise this power of governance to ensure that any priest or deacon who has committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor as described above shall not continue in active ministry. (12)
Process involving nonclerics working or ministering on behalf of the archdiocese
If an accusation of sexual misconduct by a non-clerical religious (brother, sister, nun) is substantiated, the review board may recommend to the archbishop that the accused never again be permitted to minister on behalf of the archdiocese.
If an accusation of sexual misconduct by a lay employee is substantiated, the review board may recommend to the archbishop that the employee be terminated and never rehired and every effort be made to see that he or she is never allowed to volunteer in any capacity that involves contact with children on behalf of the archdiocese in any ministry.
If an accusation of sexual misconduct by a lay volunteer is substantiated, the review board may recommend to the archbishop that the accused be relieved of his or her volunteer position and every effort be made to see that he or she is never permitted to be employed by any parish, school or agency of the archdiocese nor be permitted to volunteer in any capacity that involves contact with children on behalf of the archdiocese in any ministry.
If the review board determines, after careful review and consultation, that the allegations of sexual misconduct cannot be substantiated or that they are false, the board may recommend to the archbishop that:
In all cases, the archdiocese shall reach out to victims and their families in a pastoral way. Likewise, persons falsely accused shall be provided for.
Reporting to, cooperating with, civil authorities
The archdiocese will comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and will cooperate in their investigation. In every instance, the archdiocese will advise and support a person’s obligation to make a report to public authorities.
Protection of rights
Care will always be taken to protect the rights of all parties involved, particularly those of the person claiming to have been sexually abused and of the person against whom the charge has been made. When an accusation has proved to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the person falsely accused.
9 - cf. Canonical Delicts Involving Sexual Misconduct and Dismissal from the Clerical State, 1995; Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001
10 - Article 13, “Procedural Norms” for Motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, AAS, 93, 2001, p. 787
11 - CIC, c. 1395 §2; CCEO, c. 1453 §1
12 - The archbishop may exercise his executive power of governance to take one or more of the following administrative actions (CIC, cc. 381, 129ff):
Approved by Most Reverend Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.
Archbishop of Indianapolis
November 24, 2015