Clergy Abuse

October 2019

Salina – It recently has come to our attention that a priest, Fr. Ed Prather (deceased – date of death: November 26, 1996), from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, had several credible allegations of sexual misconduct with minors. Fr. Prather did not have ministerial faculties to participate in ministry in the Diocese of Salina. However, he did reside in the parish rectory at St. Edward Parish in Belleville, Kansas for approximately one (1) year and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hays, Kansas for one (1) summer. Although Fr. Prather is currently on the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s “list of priests with credible accusations” there have been no allegations received while he resided in the Diocese of Salina. 

If anyone has any information concerning inappropriate sexual behavior concerning Fr. Prather while he resided in the Diocese of Salina, please contact the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330 and/or the KBI Crime Hotline at 1-800-572-7463 and/or the Office of Safety and Security for the Diocese of Salina on the Diocese of Salina’s website by either submitting an abuse report online or call the diocesan report abuse hotline (785) 825-0865 or email your abuse report to – reportabuse@salinadiocese.org. All reports received by the Office of Safety and Security for the Diocese of Salina concerning abuse of minors are immediately reported to law enforcement and the Department of Children and Families.

Media Contact:
Colleen Augustine 
colleen.augustine@salinadiocese.org 
785-827-8746

Salina Diocese releases list of substantiated allegations of clergy sexual abuse of a minor

Salina — On Aug. 14, 2018, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was released. The report exposed a great scandal within the Church and incited Catholics, lay and clergy alike, to demand greater transparency and accountability from the leaders of the Catholic faith. On Sept. 18, 2018, the Diocese of Salina informed the Attorney General’s office that newly appointed Bishop Gerald Vincke would be retaining the independent outside counsel of Cottonwood Law LLC. of Hillsboro to conduct a thorough review of clergy personnel files and identify any potential cases of clergy misconduct with minors. Bishop Vincke had been serving in his new role as the Bishop of Salina for less than a month when he opened the investigation of the clergy files.

Click here for this complete issue of the Register.

From September 2018 to January 2019, Courtney Boehm from Cottonwood Law conducted an audit of the diocesan clergy files. Boehm was selected for her expertise in criminal law and her independence from the Salina Diocese. At the time of the audit, Boehm was the Marion County Attorney and has since been appointed a district court judge in the 8th Judicial District which consists of Dickinson, Geary, Marion and Morris counties. Boehm reviewed 109 clergy files, ranging from clergy serving in the late 1800s to present day. The files reviewed consisted of any member of the clergy with allegations of misconduct against them. Upon the completion of the review, Cottonwood Law submitted a comprehensive report to Bishop Vincke. The report summarized the contents of each clergy misconduct file and the allegations that were made against each priest. The entirety of this comprehensive report was immediately turned over to the Attorney General’s office, who then forwarded it to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI).

Within the report, the auditor recommended which cases needed to be reviewed by the Lay Review Board. The Lay Review Board, formed in February 2000, is a group that reviews any allegation made against a member of the clergy and includes mental and medical health professionals, social service providers, civil and canon law professionals, law enforcement officials and two priests. In order to be as thorough and transparent as possible, Bishop Vincke asked that files recommended by Boehm be reviewed, including those that were previously reviewed. During the month of February 2019, the Lay Review Board met and discussed the cases recommended by Cottonwood Law. Upon the completion of the Lay Review Board’s review of the Cottonwood Law report, 14 cases of diocesan clergy abuse of a minor were found to be substantiated.

The Diocese of Concordia was founded in 1887. The Diocese of Concordia then became the Diocese of Salina in 1944. During a span of 132 years, with approximately 300 diocesan priests having served in the Diocese of Salina, 14 diocesan priests were identified to have substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. A substantiated allegation is one that has been corroborated with witness statements, documents, emails, photos, texts, or by another source, such as law enforcement. None of the 14 priests are in active ministry today. Of the 14 priests, 12 are deceased and the remaining two are laicized. At this time, the Diocese of Salina is only releasing the names of clerics with substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. Any cleric with an allegation of abuse of a minor that is unsubstantiated has been excluded from the list. If new information is provided that leads to the substantiation of a case, the Diocese of Salina will update the list of clergy abuse of minors accordingly.

Just as the Salina Diocese conducted an internal audit, so did the Order of Franciscan Minors Capuchin Province of St. Conrad, headquartered in Denver. The Capuchins are a religious order who have had a strong presence within the Salina Diocese, particularly in the Hays and Victoria area. Father Christopher Popravak, Provincial of the Denver Province of Capuchins, shared the results of the Capuchin internal audit with the Salina Diocese. Of the approximate 300 Capuchins who have served in the Salina Diocese, 13 priests/brothers were found to have credible allegations of abuse of a minor. The names of these priests/brothers have been included within this edition of The Register, along with additional information provided to the Diocese of Salina by the Capuchins for release.

“This is a difficult time for the Church,” said Bishop Vincke in a letter entitled Why I Said Yes, released to the public in September 2018, “This purification of the Church by God is painful, but much needed. We need the eyes of faith as we suffer through this. ‘Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey (Lumen Fidei #57).’ Jesus is with us as light in the midst of darkness.”

Bishop addresses release of list of substantiated allegations

In September of 2018, shortly after I arrived in Salina, I asked that an independent review be completed on our priest files. In this edition of The Register, you will find the results of that investigation. There are 14 diocesan priests who have substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. Additionally, you will also find the results of the independent investigation conducted by the Order of Franciscan Minors Capuchin Province of St. Conrad, headquartered in Denver. They have listed 13 Capuchins who have served in our diocese at some point within their ministry and who have credible allegations of abuse of a minor.

I begin by offering my apologies to all people who are victims of clergy abuse and to the families of any person who was abused. My heart aches for you. I am sorry for any time in the past when the diocese did not appropriately respond to the plea of an individual who was a victim of abuse. There have been times in the past when the Church failed to address the needs of the people who are victims in favor of protecting the reputation of the priest. I am sorry for any time in the past when the Church attempted to solve the issues on their own instead of informing the proper law enforcement of an allegation. By our omission, we committed a terrible injustice to all people who are victims of abuse. We realize that the majority of the clergy abuse occurred decades ago; however, the wounds of that abuse are very deep. I have made mistakes, too. I haven’t always given the people who are victims of clergy abuse my best attention and prompt response.

Text of Bishop Vincke’s Message

Letter for weekend of March 30 – 31

Statement on abuse

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With a contrite heart, our diocese published a list of clergy and religious who have substantiated allegations of sexual abuse against a minor. Our diocesan list included 14 priests. Of these fourteen, twelve are deceased and the remaining two are laicized. Perhaps you have found that some of these priests had served at your parish at one time or another. Perhaps some of these priests baptized you, presided at your wedding, or even celebrated your parent’s funeral Mass. The reactions could range from hurt, anger, pain and discouragement. We have sinned against God and against you and we are sorry for our sins.

I especially want to ask for forgiveness for those hurt by a clergy member in any way—either by their words or actions. It took tremendous courage for the people who are victims to speak about what happened to them. The people who are victims of sexual abuse by clergy have experienced much pain and betrayal. I apologize to the people who are victims and to their families for the diocese’s failures in the past. Even though much of the abuse in our diocese happened decades ago, we realize the deep impact it has had on every one of you. As a Church, we cannot say “I’m sorry” enough. And yet, I know that saying “I’m sorry” for what happened doesn’t seem to do justice. My prayer and my hope in publishing this list is twofold. First, by becoming vulnerable before all of you and bringing things into the light, I hope that it will bring healing from the hurt and anger caused by the lack of accountability and transparency on the part of church leadership. And secondly, that the Church leadership can rebuild your trust. The Church must always be willing to recognize our failings and learn from our mistakes.

The list contains the names of clergy members who have a substantiated allegation of committing sexual abuse against a minor. If the diocese receives additional substantiated allegations, the list will be amended. If you believe a name is missing from this list, please contact the diocese. Most importantly, if you have suffered sexual abuse and have not reported it, please report the abuse to law enforcement authorities. If the sexual abuse occurred by a minister in the church, please also contact our Safety and Environment Office.

Our diocese has existed since 1887. The recent crisis in the Church has caused so much turmoil in the lives of so many. Please know that the abuse scandal has been at the forefront of all that I am doing as the Bishop of Salina since I arrived in August of 2018. I have offered numerous Masses for the people who have suffered abuse and for their families and for all those who have been negatively affected by these events. This year, I am celebrating a Mass at all our parishes to say how sorry I am in person.

Please know that there are not any priests currently serving in the Diocese of Salina who have had credible allegations against a minor. Please pray for our priests. I am grateful to them and their daily sacrifices they make in serving you. Please pray for vocations to the priesthood. These have been difficult times for all of us. Sometimes, I too am discouraged when I simply look at the problems in our Church. The Lord Jesus keeps inviting me to keep “my eyes on Him” during this storm. I invite all of us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Healing will take place when we remember that our deepest identity is that we are beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. May we abide in the gaze of God’s love and mercy. The Lord is purifying His Church. I have tremendous hope that God will bring good out of this evil. I am grateful to all of you for your faith and understanding. I trust that God will bring healing to our diocese and the Church. We continue to give permission to the Holy Spirit to do whatever He desires for our diocese.

I ask the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the patron saint of our diocese, to pray for us, as we strive for holiness and truth. We need her help more than ever. May she look with tender compassion on those who have been hurt just as she gazed upon her Son at the foot of the cross. 

Be assured of my love and prayers. God bless you!

In Christ’s service,

Most Reverend Gerald L. Vincke

Diocese of Salina

I am also very sorry to the faithful, who like me, wonder, “How could this happen?” I know for many of you, the clergy abuse scandal has caused great pain and angst. I also apologize to any of you who were hurt by my decision to allow Theodore McCarrick to live at the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria.

For the sake of transparency, I would like to identify some of the most prominent mistakes the Diocese of Salina has made in the past with regard to clergy abuse of minors.

First of all, the independent investigation showed that our clergy files were not well organized. Myself and members of my staff have already taken steps to remedy this situation. This is one mistake. But, I would like to share with you the mistakes the Diocese of Salina made with regard to four separate priest cases.

There were times when allegations against Msgr. William Merchant were not properly investigated. In looking at Msgr. Merchant’s file, I was disheartened to discover that these allegations were mishandled. In 1968, the Salina Diocese received two allegations of abuse of a minor against Msgr. Merchant. A more thorough investigation of these allegations should have been done. In 1999, another allegation of abuse of a minor was made against Msgr. Merchant. It does not appear that a thorough investigation into this allegation was conducted until 2002, when the alleged victim reached out again. In 2002, the Salina Diocese properly investigated the allegation. Since then, several individuals have made allegations of abuse of a minor against Msgr. Merchant. I believe that the Salina Diocese has taken the proper course of action with the allegations that occurred following 2002.

In 2002, an allegation of abuse of a minor was made against Father Roger Hough. The Lay Review Board and local law enforcement investigated the allegation. The Lay Review Board recommended that Father Hough be removed from active ministry and placed under restrictions. This recommendation was not acted on until 2005. In 2005, restrictions were placed on Father Hough. Additionally, the Lay Review Board submitted a report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome to ensure the permanency of the disciplinary and restrictive measures placed on Father Hough.

In 2001, there was an allegation made against Father John Walsh. At that time, prior to concluding a thorough investigation, Father Walsh was allowed to retire, apparently without restrictions.

Father Robert Schleiter, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita who was serving in the Salina Diocese, had substantiated allegations against him in the 1950s. He was immediately asked to leave the diocese, and he did. However, in the 1990s, an alleged victim contacted the diocese to report abuse, and the diocese did not respond appropriately. The same alleged victim contacted the diocese again in 2003. At this point, the diocese responded to his allegation.

It is difficult to share these failings with you. But, I think it is necessary. The Church needs to be open, honest, and transparent. The Church has made mistakes. The Diocese of Salina has made mistakes. I am very sorry for the mistakes that we have made. It is my sincere desire that we can learn from our errors and never let them happen again.

As a diocese, we have already made progress ensuring that we respond appropriately and effectively to any allegations of misconduct that are made against any clergy. Every year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops contracts an independent group to audit every single diocese in the country to ensure that any allegations against a member of the clergy have been handled correctly. We have consistently passed these audits since 2004. Additionally, we ensure that every Salina diocesan seminarian goes through a thorough background check and psychological evaluation before entering into the seminary. While in the seminary, annual human formation reports are submitted to my office for review. Our diocese requires any person who works with minors to undergo formal training (please see FAQ’s for more details). And lastly, in order to serve outside of their own diocese, all members of the clergy must have a letter of suitability from their bishop stating that they are “a priest in good-standing.”

I ask for your continued support and prayers for our diocese. Personally, I am praying for healing. I have offered numerous Masses in my chapel for the people who are victims of clergy abuse, and I have visited 29 parishes in our Diocese and offered a Mass of Healing. I will be visiting the remaining 57 parishes throughout the rest of 2019.

I am sincerely grateful that the individuals who are victims of abuse and their families have spoken out. Thank you for keeping the Church accountable. Your courage will bring about the purification that we need. If you are a victim of abuse and have not reported it, please do so (please see FAQ’s for more details).

I also want to thank the priests who have served so faithfully. Sometimes, our fear and anger towards the priests who have done great evil makes us forget that many of the Catholic priests have lived lives of prayerful sacrifice. I would also like to thank Cottonwood Law, the Lay Review Board and the diocesan staff who all assisted in creating this special report. The time and sacrifice of these individuals has been tremendous. Lastly, thank you to the parishioners of the Salina Diocese for your faith and understanding. I pray that, by our example, the Church is brought to greater healing and purification.

Click here for this complete issue of the Register.

In Christ’s service,


Bishop Gerald L. Vincke

Substantiated allegations for diocesan clergy of sexual abuse of a minor­

Because transparency is essential to the healing process following the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Church, the Salina Diocese is publishing this list of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor (or vulnerable adult). This list is complete as of the publication of this issue of The Register. Any new allegations of misconduct will be investigated. A current and updated list of substantiated allegations will be maintained on the diocesan website, https://salinadiocese.org.

Bachand, Louis
Year of birth: 1931
Year of ordination: 1957
Last known status: Deceased 1991
Estimated time frame of abuse: late 1950s-early 1960s
Abuse reported: 2011
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.
Pastoral assignments:
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Concordia
• St. Francis Xavier, Junction City
• St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Osborne
• St. Thomas Hospital, Colby
• St. Ann’s Home, Concordia
• Mount St. Joseph Home, Concordia
More than one allegation: No
Dion, Maurice
Year of birth: 1917
Year of ordination: 1944
Last known status: Deceased 2004
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960s-1970s
Abuse reported: 2002
Diocesan action: Diocesan investigation was ongoing at the time of the priest’s death. Allegations were not substantiated until after the priest had passed away.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. Francis of Assisi, Norton
• St. Peter, Aurora
• St. Anthony, Miltonvale
• St. Peter, Meredith
• St. John the Baptist, Clyde
• Immaculate Conception, Leoville
• St. Edward, Belleville
• St. George, Munden
• St. John the Baptist, Hanover
• SS. Peter and Paul, Clay Center
More than one allegation: Yes
Dreiling, Christian
Year of birth: 1887
Year of ordination: 1915
Last known status: Deceased 1960
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1930s
Abuse reported: 1939
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. In 1940, he was placed on diocesan and court-ordered leave, which lasted eight years, due to criminal activity. During his leave, Father Dreiling received five years of treatment. Treatment was found successful, and Father Dreiling was re-instated to ministry from 1948 to his death.
Pastoral assignments:
• Henrietta, Texas
• St. Martin of Tours, Seguin
• Sacred Heart, Oberlin
• SS. Philip and James, Phillipsburg
• Sacred Heart, Selden
• St. Michael, Collyer
• St. John Hospital, Salina
• Sacred Heart, Park
• Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina
• Little Flower Home, Concordia
More than one allegation: Yes
Hough, Roger
Year of birth: 1936
Year of ordination: 1964
Last known status: Deceased 2018
Estimated time frame of abuse: 2001-2002
Abuse reported: 2002
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation and removed priest from ministry in 2005. He was ordered by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome to live a life of prayer and penance.
Pastoral assignments:
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Concordia
• St. John the Baptist, Hanover
• St. Mary, Queen of the Universe, Salina
• St. Paul, Delphos
• St. Mary, Glasco
• St. Peter, Meredith
• St. Theresa, Mankato
• St. Mary, Jamestown
• St. Thomas, Stockton
• St. Isidore, Manhattan
• St. Ignatius of Loyola, Kanopolis
• St. Joseph, Brookville
• St. Mary, Holyrood
• SS. Peter and Paul, Clay Center
• St. Mary, Clifton
• St. Michael, Kimeo
• St. John the Baptist, Clyde
• St. Joseph, St. Joseph
• St. Agnes, Grainfield
• Sacred Heart, Selden
• Immaculate Conception, Leoville
• St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Osborne
• St. Mary, Downs
More than one allegation: No
Mattas, Louis
Year of birth: 1928
Year of ordination: 1960
Last known status: Deceased 2011
Estimated time frame of abuse: mid 1960s and early 1980s
Abuse reported: 2005 and 2007
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. The 2005 allegation was unable to be proven. The 2007 allegation was substantiated. Father Mattas was ordered by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome to live a life of prayer and penance.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. Michael, Chapman
• St. Columba, Elmo
• St. Patrick, Gypsum
• St. Joseph, St. Joseph
• St. Isidore, Cuba
• St. John the Evangelist, Logan
• St. Mary, Densmore
• St. Mary, Russell
• St. Ignatius Loyola, Kanopolis
• St. Mary, Holyrood
• St. Joseph, Brookville
• St. Mary, Queen of the Universe, Salina
• St. John the Baptist, Beloit
• St. Francis Xavier, Junction City
• St. Augustine, Washington
• SS. Peter and Paul, Morrowville
• St. Andrew, Abilene
More than one allegation: Yes
Merchant, William
Year of birth: 1911
Year of ordination: 1938
Last known status: Deceased 1975
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960s-1970s
Abuse reported: 1968, 1999, 2000-2004
Diocesan action: The 1968 and 1999 allegations were not investigated at that time. The 2000-2004 allegations were investigated.
Pastoral assignments:
• Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina
• St. John Hospital, Salina
• St. Mary of the Assumption, Clifton
• St. Bernard, Clara
• SS. Peter and Paul, Morrowville
• St. Francis Xavier, Junction City
• Immaculate Conception, Leoville
• Sacred Heart, Selden
• SS. Peter and Paul, Clay Center
• Seven Dolors, Manhattan
• Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina
• St. Joseph, Brookville
More than one allegation: Yes
Moeder, John
Year of birth: 1931
Year of ordination: 1957
Last known status: Deceased 2012
Estimated time frame of abuse: late 1970s
Abuse reported: 2018
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.
Pastoral assignments:
• Sacred Heart, Plainville
• St. Andrew, Abilene
• St. Phillip, Hope
• Seven Dolors, Manhattan
• Sacred Heart, Esbon
• St. Mary, Smith Center
• St. Mary, Jamestown
• Nazareth Motherhouse, Concordia
• St. Anthony, Miltonvale
• St. Peter, Meredith
• St. Joseph, McDowell Creek
• St. Edward, Belleville
• St. George, Munden
• St. Isidore, Cuba
More than one allegation: No
O’Donohoe, Thomas
Year of birth: 1887
Year of ordination: 1910
Last known status: Deceased 1951
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1943-1945
Abuse reported: 2004
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. John the Baptist, Beloit
• Diocese of Wichita
• Nazareth Motherhouse, Concordia
• St. Paul, Angelus
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Concordia
• Archdiocese of Detroit
• Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina
• St. Thomas Hospital, Colby
More than one allegation: No
Reif, Robert
Year of birth: 1939
Year of ordination: 1967
Last known status: Laicized 2006
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1970s-1980s
Abuse reported: 1986, 2002, 2005
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Suspended from ministry and sent away for treatment from 1986-1987. Was granted a leave of absence in 1988 and did not return to the Diocese of Salina.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. Andrew, Abilene
• Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina
• SS. Philip and James, Phillipsburg
• St. Francis, Claudell
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Goodland
• St. Isidore, Manhattan
• Sacred Heart, Park
• St. Anthony, St. Peter
More than one allegation: Yes
Scheer, Allen*
Year of birth: 1962
Year of ordination: 1995
Last known status: Convicted and Laicized 2012
Estimated time frame of abuse: 2012
Abuse reported: 2012
(*abuse occurred with a vulnerable adult/person with disabilities, as defined by Substantive Norms for More Grave Delicts, Art. 6, § 1, 1°)
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Removed from ministry in 2012 and began laicization process.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. Mary, Queen of the Universe, Salina
• St. Theresa, Mankato
• St. Mary, Smith Center
• Sacred Heart, Esbon
• SS. Philip and James, Phillipsburg
• St. John, Logan
• Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina
More than one allegation: No
Schleiter, Robert
(Diocese of Wichita)
Year of birth: 1926
Year of ordination: 1954
Last known status: Laicized 1969; Deceased 1995
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1950s
Abuse reported: 1957, 1980, 2003
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Priest was asked to leave the Salina Diocese in 1957, and he did. In 1980, no response to the allegation. In 2003, the same individual who reported in 1980 reported again, and the diocese responded appropriately.
Pastoral assignments:
• SS. Peter and Paul, Cawker City
• St. Mary, Downs
• St. Francis, Claudell
• Diocese of Wichita
More than one allegation: Yes
Senecal, Eugene
Year of birth: 1912
Year of ordination: 1940
Last known status: Deceased 1975
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960s-1970s
Abuse reported: 1994, 2002
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.
Pastoral assignments:
• Immaculate Conception, Grinnell
• Sacred Heart, Park
• St. John the Baptist, Hanover
• St. Peter, Aurora and missions
• Sacred Heart, Oberlin and missions
• Immaculate Conception, Minneapolis
• St. Michael, Kimeo and missions
• St. John the Evangelist, Herington
• St. Paul, Angelus
More than one allegation: Yes
Van Speybroeck, Arthur
Year of birth: 1875
Year of ordination: 1902
Last known status: Left Diocese of Salina sometime after 1908
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1907
Abuse reported: 1907
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Priest left Diocese of Salina after the allegation.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. John the Baptist, Herington
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Concordia
• St. Joseph, St. Joseph
• Immaculate Conception, Grinnell and missions
More than one allegation: Yes
Walsh, John
Year of birth: 1929
Year of ordination: 1955
Last known status: Deceased 2009
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1972-1978
Abuse reported: 2002
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Priest retired immediately following the allegation.
Pastoral assignments:
• St. Francis Xavier, Junction City
• St. John Hospital, Salina
• St. Martin of Tours, Seguin
• St. Francis Cabrini, Hoxie
• St. Joseph, Damar
• Holy Ghost, Sharon Springs
• St. Peter, Wallace
• St. Thomas, Stockton
• St. Francis, Claudell
• St. John the Baptist, Clyde
• St. Mary of the Assumption, Clifton
• St. Joseph, St. Joseph
• Sacred Heart, Park
• St. Agnes, Grainfield
• St. Francis of Assisi, Norton
• St. Joseph, New Almelo
• St. Michael, Chapman
More than one allegation: No

Click here for this complete issue of the Register.

Capuchin Province of St. Conrad publishes names of friars accused of abusing minors and vulnerable adults

Click here to go to the Capuchins website for more information.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Many are shedding tears these days, including myself, because of the great harm caused to minors and vulnerable adults by priests, deacons and religious brothers. On behalf of the Capuchin Franciscans I must beg your forgiveness for the trust betrayed by our abusive friars.

The knowledge has caused me personal grief. I am good friends with one of the victims, a student of mine who I taught at TMP-Marian. It took the individual many years to come forward and let me know what had happened. Sometimes victims are filled with shame and guilt. These feelings, though, should not be theirs. The shame and guilt rightly belongs with the friars, especially those who caused the harm.

From an early age I became aware of the disastrous effects of sexual abuse. When I was in the minor seminary back east, a classmate came to me and shared the horrible truth that he was being abused. The offender was not a priest or friar. The offender was the groundskeeper. I encouraged the young seminarian to report the abuse. He did.

The groundskeeper was fired. I don’t know whether the abuse was ever reported to authorities. The young man was asked to leave the seminary. I never saw him again. It grieved me then, it grieves me now.

Years later, when the Boston Globe made their revelations, I read that abuse victims can become victimizers themselves. Hurriedly I searched the internet and learned to my horror, that the former seminarian had become a priest and had, in fact, committed abuse himself. He was imprisoned for that.

So many people have been harmed. There is so much grief: the grief of victims, the grief of families of victims and families of abusers, the grief of scandalized parishioners, and even the grief of priests and friars who are faithful, dedicated servants but who are reeling with the constant disclosures about so many perpetrators. We cannot allow this to ever happen again.

I don’t believe that we friars will ever fully comprehend the great harm done to the victims of sexual abuse. I understand that there are people very disappointed with the Church for not taking concrete steps to address these terrible crimes. Apologies are not enough. In fact, after a point, apologies sound meaningless, unless accompanied by protective measures. Worse still, apologies may have the effect of opening deep wounds of the survivors.
I hope that people refer to our webpage (www.capuchins.org) to see what positive actions we have taken to prevent this kind of sexual abuse from ever happening again. Many of the steps we are taking are mirrored across this country.

As believing Christians and as ministers of the Gospel of Christ, more is expected of us. We must not only be above reproach, we must be instruments of healing in our Church and in our world. Franciscans especially are called to be channels of God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

We want to reach out to any who may have experienced abusive treatment at the hands of our brother Capuchins. Please come forward and report the abuse if you haven’t already. We want to work towards reparation of the harm done. We want to help restore faith in the Catholic Church and in the witness of those who follow the Gospel in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.

I myself have tried to accompany victims in their healing process, as have other provincial ministers. We have not always done this well. Some victims were disappointed, even angered by our ineptitude. We need to do better.

We Capuchins also have a history of working to promote the conversion of abusers. Not everyone knows that the attacker of 11-year-old Maria Goretti, Alessandro Serenelli, lived out his final days in a Capuchin friary. In his crazed passion, the young Alessandro repeatedly stabbed Maria. Maria died the following day, her last words, “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli.” Serenelli was imprisoned for that heinous crime. Capuchins helped him live a life of penance and conversion after his release. He lived to see Maria become a saint. In a public act of reconciliation, Maria Goretti’s mother forgave Alessandro and together they were present for her canonization.

St. Maria Goretti is often seen as the patron not only of those who were abused, but also of those guilty of abuse.

Let us pray through her intercession for the healing of those who have been deeply wounded and for the conversion of all those involved.

Dear God, we ask you to help all those who suffer from abuse. Help them find healing and peace in their lives. May Maria Goretti, who was strengthened by Your Grace, join with us in prayer for the healing of all victims of abuse, particularly those abused as children or young adults.

Grant us your love that we might reach out to them in your name with hope in times of trial. As Maria prayed for her attacker, grant us the grace to pray for the true conversion of all involved with the abuse: that they might seek your mercy through prayer and penance.

Loving God, pour into our hearts and lives your healing spirit, that the sacredness of every human person might be respected and protected as the precious image of God. Help us to live in the peace which Maria Goretti had found in Christ and in the love of his mother Mary.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Prayer taken from Aleteia.org/2018)


Yours in Christ,


Fr. Christopher Popravak O.F.M.Cap.
Provincial Minster

Q: What information are you releasing on this list?

A: This list contains the names of diocesan clergy members against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been substantiated.

Q. How do you define “sexual abuse of a minor”?

A. Sexual abuse of a minor includes sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a minor or other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. The term “sexual abuse of a minor” is not necessarily limited to the definitions of sexual abuse under civil or criminal law. The use, creation or possession of child pornographic images constitutes sexual abuse of a minor. For the purpose of diocesan policies, a minor is any person below the age of 18 years. In addition, a person who habitually has the imperfect use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor — referred to as a “vulnerable adult” (see Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Normae de Gravioribus Delictis, Article 6, § 1, 1°. Promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI, May 21, 2010).

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 sexual abuse of a minor 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 diocese 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 diocese starts with the presumption that the allegation is being brought forward in good faith, and therefore thoroughly investigates all allegations. An allegation is considered “substantiated” when it is corroborated with witness statements, documents, emails, photos, texts, or by another source, such as law enforcement. If the accused member of the clergy admits to the allegation, the accusation is substantiated. Allegations of abuse occurring significantly in the past, even if the accused is deceased, can also be substantiated when there is sufficient corroborative 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, what time period did they cover and how many clergy with substantiated allegations were diocesan priests of the Diocese of Salina?

A. The Diocese of Concordia, now the Diocese of Salina, was established on Aug. 2, 1887. During that time, more than 600 priests have served in the diocese, including both diocesan and religious clergy. Of the more than 300 diocesan clergy files, there were 63 misconduct files; all misconduct files were reviewed. Of those 63 files, 14 files contained substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

Q. What percentage of all diocesan clergy had a substantiated allegation?

A. 4.67 percent

Q. What happens to an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy once it is received?

A. The diocese initiates an investigation into all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy. If the allegation concerns a current act of sexual abuse, law enforcement is contacted immediately in accordance with Kansas state law and diocesan policy. Under these circumstances, the accused is immediately put on leave and the diocesan investigation may be suspended until civil law enforcement has completed its investigation. The diocese fully cooperates in all criminal investigations conducted by civil authorities and will conduct its own investigation when it is certain that it will not interfere with any civil investigation being conducted. Even if the civil authorities determine not to pursue an investigation, the diocese will conduct its own investigation.

Allegations of sexual abuse of a minor are also communicated to the Diocesan Lay Review Board (LRB) in accordance with the Diocesan Safe Environment Policy. The diocese utilizes two investigators to perform internal investigations of allegations of sexual abuse. These investigators have extensive law enforcement and investigative backgrounds from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The investigator’s reports are presented to the LRB to inform their deliberations and provide the known facts on which to base a recommendation.

The LRB’s members include mental and medical health professionals, social service providers, civil and canon law professionals, law enforcement officials and two priests.

The LRB is not an investigative body, but it is presented with the results of the investigation conducted by the investigators. Following its review of the case, the LRB submits its findings and recommendations to the bishop. The LRB makes recommendations with respect to all aspects of the case, including, when applicable, recommendations concerning the accused cleric’s suitability for continued ministry.

If the allegation is not able to be substantiated, consistent with the recommendation of the LRB, the cleric may be returned to active ministry.

Q. Is this list complete?

A. This is a complete and accurate representation of all substantiated allegations against diocesan priests received by the diocese which involve the sexual abuse of a minor. They have each been substantiated by the LRB based on the information currently available in the diocesan files.

The list is based on the extensive file review conducted by attorney Courtney Boehm of the independent law firm of Cottonwood Law, LLC. The diocese has received some allegations of abuse occurring significantly in the past that could not be substantiated due to the lack of specificity regarding the allegation and/or corroborating information contained in diocesan files. These unsubstantiated allegations of past abuse do not pertain to anyone currently serving in priestly ministry.

If new allegations are made and substantiated by the LRB, the names of the diocesan clergy involved will be published in The Register and added to this list, which will be maintained on the diocesan website.

Q. Why was Cottonwood Law chosen to review the files?

A. Cottonwood Law, out of Hillsboro and specifically attorney Courtney Boehm, was chosen for her expertise in criminal law investigations, and that neither her nor Cottonwood Law have a direct connection with the Diocese of Salina. At the time of the audit, Boehm was the Marion County Attorney and has since been appointed a district court judge in the 8th Judicial District which consists of Dickinson, Geary, Marion and Morris counties.

Q. Why were some of these names not made public before now so that criminal charges could be made?

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 100 years of records, is an effort to make all substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors — even historical ones — public in the same way the diocese has made current ones.

Q. Why are you releasing this list now?

A. In light of the confusion and concern caused by the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the Theodore McCarrick scandal this past summer, there has been a call for greater transparency on the part of the Church regarding not just present allegations, but historical allegations as well. The diocese is releasing this list as part of that effort toward greater transparency.

Q. Are any of the men on this list still in active ministry?

A. No cleric with a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is permitted to exercise any form of public ministry.

Q. What is the diocese doing to prevent sexual abuse within the Church?

A. The Diocesan Safe Environment Program has three components. First, all Church clergy, seminarians, employees and volunteers are required to undergo criminal background checks. Second, persons who work with or around children are required to participate in ongoing child safety training and to keep it current. Children, too, are required to undergo personal safety training. Third, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) engages an independent firm that conducts an annual safe environment audit of the diocese. The most recent on-site audit was conducted in October 2018 by the independent firm StoneBridge Business Partners.

The diocese currently utilizes CMGConnect, an online training platform of the Catholic Mutual Group. CMGConnect presents the “Safe Haven — It’s Up to You” adult awareness training to Diocesan clergy, seminarians, employees and volunteers.

Since 2003, the diocese has instructed and completed background checks on more than 11,909 adults, and has passed every independent audit — both remote and on-site — conducted since the audits were instituted by the USCCB in 2004.

Q. What topics are included CMGConnect training?

A. CMGConnect training contains a required curriculum to provide ongoing training to all personnel regarding how to prevent, detect and respond to suspected sexual abuse of minors. This training is required for all clergy, seminarians, employees and volunteers. Additionally, there is special age-appropriate training provided to children. The platform also provides a multitude of optional training which includes bullying, online safety, social media safety, establishing appropriate boundaries and others. The CMGConnect platform is used by dioceses throughout the United States and Canada.

Q. What training do seminarians, or new employees, clergy and volunteers of the diocese receive regarding the Diocesan Safe Environment Program?

A. All adults — clergy, seminarians, employees, and volunteers — are required to undergo CMGConnect training. Aspiring seminarians must complete their CMGConnect training upon acceptance to seminary studies. All children in Catholic schools or religious education programs also undergo personal safety training annually.

Q. What steps has the diocese taken to ensure that those who apply for seminary are suitable for ministry?

A. The application process for admission to seminary studies for the diocese is extensive and includes lengthy interviews, multiple references, national criminal background checks, national sex offender registry checks and a psychological assessment that includes a psychosexual evaluation. Only men willing and able to live the chaste and celibate life that is required of them move forward in the application process. While in seminary, men are closely supervised by a formation team and routinely evaluated by the diocese.

Q. Everywhere in the news, sexual abuse by perpetrators in all walks of life is being reported. But it seems that some critics have singled out the Catholic Church for criticism on this matter. Why is that?

A. One instance of sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic clergy is too many. As the Church, we should hold ourselves and, in particular, our clergy to the highest standards. As a result of a series of articles in the Boston Globe on the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, the Catholic Church has undergone intense scrutiny on this issue. This led in 2002 to the adoption by the Catholic Bishops of the United States of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The charter mandated policies and protocols regarding the Church’s response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, as well as standards for safe environment programs aimed at preventing future abuse. We are grateful to victims and the secular media who called the Church to exercise greater accountability and transparency in this area.

Q. How did the diocese deal with 14 priests on this list?

A. Of the 14 priests listed: four priests died prior to the abuse being reported; three priests were laicized; three priests were removed from ministry, two of which were mandated to a life of prayer and penance by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome; one priest died during the investigation; one priest left the diocese for another; one priest continued to minister after the initial allegation was not properly investigated and died before subsequent reports were made; and one priest was removed from parish ministry, received five years of treatment and was only allowed to minister at the nursing home where he resided.

Q. How does the diocese ensure that priests from other dioceses, ministering here either short or long-term, are not a threat?

A. Every cleric from another diocese seeking to exercise ministry in the Diocese of Salina has to present from his bishop or provincial, confirmation that he is a priest or deacon in good standing.

Q. Does the diocese work with law enforcement to investigate reports of abuse?

A. All allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor are reported to the appropriate law enforcement and child protection agencies as required by Kansas state law and the Diocesan Safe Environment Policy. Moreover, the diocese fully cooperates with law enforcement in the process of ensuing investigations.

Q. What should I do if I know of a minor that is being abused or if I’ve been abused by a representative of the Diocese of Salina?

TO REPORT ABUSE
Any allegation of the abuse of a minor, may be reported to the Kansas Protection Report Center (1-800-922-5330), the KBI Crime Hotline (1-800-KSCRIME) or ClergyAbuse@kbi.ks.gov. The Diocese of Salina fully cooperates in all criminal investigations related to abuse perpetrated by a member of the clergy or other Church official.
For the safety of children and the healing of those who have suffered abuse, the Diocese of Salina provides the following means of reporting abuse:

Reports will be responded to promptly by the Diocesan Assistance Coordinator. All reports are confidential with the exception of those involving the abuse of minors, which will be immediately reported by the diocese to the proper authorities, as required by Kansas State Law and Diocesan Policy.

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