I would like to update you about a few developments in our archdiocesan response to sexual abuse. First, however, I want you to know of my prayers during this COVID-19 pandemic, especially for those who are ill or have family members or friends who are ill. I thank you for the great cooperation you are exhibiting. I extend my deep thanks to all of our healthcare providers and first responders who sacrifice their health to serve us, to those workers serving the community by providing essential services, and to our priests and pastoral leaders who continue to reach out to those in need. Together, we will respond courageously to advance the common good in these very difficult days.
Here are some updates:
Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR)
The March 19 issue of The Record included a story about the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR), which launched on March 16. In his May 2019 apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis addressed the Church’s response to sexual abuse and the accountability of bishops, and he asked metropolitan archbishops to take the responsibility for receiving and assessing reports involving bishops. In June 2019, at their general assembly in Baltimore, the bishops of the United States approved the implementation plan for carrying out the directives of the Holy Father in the United States.
As part of this ongoing commitment to carrying out Vos estis, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) was established. The service is operated by Convercent, Inc., an independent, third party entity that provides intake services to private institutions for reports of sensitive topics such as sexual harassment through a secure, confidential and professional platform. Individuals may go to ReportBishopAbuse.org or (800) 276-1562 in order to make a report. (This information is on our archdiocesan web page at www.archlou.org/restoringtrust.)
When a report is received, it will be forwarded to the local metropolitan archbishop who has the responsibility for initially assessing the report. I am the metropolitan archbishop for the Province of Louisville, which includes the Diocese of Covington, Diocese of Lexington, Archdiocese of Louisville and Diocese of Owensboro in Kentucky and the Dioceses of Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee. In the event that a report is received that concerns me, the report will be forwarded to Bishop Roger J. Foys of the Diocese of Covington, who is the senior suffragan bishop of this province. The story in The Record (https://therecordnewspaper.org/system-to-report-misconduct-by-bishops-goes-live/ ) describes the process for receiving and investigating a report.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service allows individuals to relay to Church authorities any reports of a U.S. Catholic bishop who has:
• Forced someone to perform or to submit to sexual acts through violence, threat or abuse of authority.
• Performed sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person.
• Produced, exhibited, possessed or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions.
• Intentionally interfered with a civil or church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious. (This includes a cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop.)
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) does not replace existing reporting systems for complaints against priests, deacons, religious, or laity. CBAR responds only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct. Those who have other complaints against a bishop, such as parish assignments or homily content, need to send those to the Archdiocese directly. Accusations of sexual abuse by a priest, deacon, staff member, or volunteer should be reported to Martine Siegel, our Victim Assistance Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to law enforcement.
I fully support this reporting service, which will allow individuals to report, even anonymously, incidents of abuse or of negligence by their bishop. The Church must shine the light of Christ on these issues as we continue to confront vigorously the horror of the sexual abuse of children or vulnerable people by representatives of the Church. In his document establishing the framework for this service – Vos estis lux mundi – Pope Francis reminded us that we must be “the light of the world.” I pray that this effort, along with all of the other measures previously established by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, helps us to realize this call.
Father Irvin Mouser and the Sisters of Loretto
I am sure that many of you saw The Courier Journal story regarding Father Irvin Mouser and his relationship with the Sisters of Loretto. I would like to share a bit of the background about this unfortunate situation.
Based upon accusations of the sexual abuse of minors, Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly removed Father Irvin Mouser from public ministry in 2002. Father Mouser was never criminally charged. Since that time, Father Mouser has been directed to lead a life of prayer and penance. Archbishop Kelly permitted Father Mouser to live in a private residence at the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse and directed him not to serve in active ministry as a priest.
With a special request from the Sisters of Loretto, Archbishop Kelly permitted Father Mouser to provide private and restricted ministry to the Sisters, primarily in the infirmary. The Holy See approved this exception. Father Mouser was never appointed as the chaplain for the Sisters of Loretto. During this time, he had a campus supervisor and an external supervisor from the Archdiocese who checked in with him periodically.
This year, a volunteer intern expressed concerns about some of Father Mouser’s activities at the Motherhouse – this complaint did not involve an accusation of abuse by Father Mouser. I appreciate and agree with the intern’s concerns. After I learned that Father Mouser’s activities exceeded the parameters approved by the Holy See many years ago, I asked him to leave the motherhouse campus, and I told him to abide by the restrictions imposed by a life of prayer and penance. Per our policies “If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied because of advanced age or infirmity, the offender will lead a life of prayer and penance. He may not celebrate Mass publicly or administer the sacraments. He may not wear clerical garb or present himself publicly as a priest. He will be directed not to have any unsupervised contact with vulnerable persons.” A new supervisor has been appointed, and Fr. Mouser is fully cooperating with the necessary changes.
We continue our promise to keep vigilant in preserving a safe environment for all we serve.