April 23, 2013 // Local

Diocesan Review Board assists with advising bishop on sexual abuse allegations of priests, deacons

By Ann Carey

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has several important committees and/or boards that assist Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in keeping the diocese running smoothly. One of the most crucial boards is one that many people don’t know much about because it conducts its business quietly in order to safeguard the privacy of the people and issues it handles.

In 2005, the U.S. Bishops approved a “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” that directed the establishment of a National Review Board as well as review boards at the diocesan level. The diocesan level review board is charged with advising the local bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest or deacon of the diocese and in his determinations of suitability for ministry. It also reviews diocesan policies for dealing with sexual abuse of minors.

The Review Board for this diocese meets twice a year. Bishop Rhoades also consults board members in between regular meeting when appropriate. As the national charter directs, the diocese’s Review Board is made up mostly of lay people who have a variety of expertise (see sidebar).

“So much of good ministry, so much of powerful ministry is quiet,” said Mary Glowaski, victim assistance coordinator and director of the diocesan Secretariat for Evangelization and Special Ministries. “But I do think it’s important that this diocese under both Bishop D’Arcy and Bishop Rhoades takes very seriously this charter, and the review committee is an integral and essential part of really honoring the dignity of both the victim and the accused, as well as the dignity of the Church as an institution.”

Msgr. Robert Schulte, diocesan vicar general/chancellor, usually receives reports of an allegation, but allegations can also be made to Glowaski by telephone or e-mail. Information about how to report abuse is posted on the diocesan website and regularly published in parish bulletins.

Most allegations the diocese receives are from the past, Glowaski said, adding that recent allegations involve people who worked in the diocese, not priests.

Cathie Cicchiello, safe environment coordinator for the diocese, told Today’s Catholic that when a person contacts the diocese with an allegation, he or she is interviewed by at least two people who document the story. Then diocesan staff conducts an investigation to try to establish the truth in order to verify or disprove the allegation. That information from the investigation is brought to the Review Board for discussion.

Each person contacting the diocese with an allegation is advised of the right or obligation to report the allegation to appropriate civil authorities. Diocesan policy is to contact appropriate civil authorities to report allegations consistent with state law when the alleged victim is a minor. At Bishop Rhoades’ direction, the diocese reports credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon of the diocese to local law enforcement even if the alleged victim is no longer a minor.

Glowaski explained that “It’s really kind of a broad review and the board members offer suggestions and recommendations for Bishop Rhoades to take under advisement. They all have different expertise, and so it really brings together so many different disciplines as you look at each one of these situations.

“I feel certainly the diocese is well served, but so are victims, and so are the ones who are accused. I find the board members to be extremely open and concerned about doing the right thing. They are very honest; it is a process that has a great deal of integrity.”

Donald Schmid, the father of three children and a member of the review board since 2010, is an assistant U.S. Attorney in South Bend. He told Today’s Catholic that the diocese is fortunate to have relatively few cases of abuse. However, when allegations of abuse are made, he said that the diocese deals with the accused “fairly and firmly,” treats victims “tenderly,” and maintains “a primary concern for the protection of children and other vulnerable persons.”

“I have seen firsthand the deep and true compassion that Bishop Rhoades has for victims of abuse,” said Schmid, who also is a member of the review board of the Congregation of Holy Cross. “I have great confidence in our bishop to do the right thing at every turn in this critical area of Church life.”

Cicchiello added that as a mother, she can assure other parents that the diocese is committed to protecting children, and the board plays an crucial role: “I find the review board a very, very important group of people who are serious, experienced and intelligent, very thoughtful and concerned about what they are doing. They take the responsibility to heart and they are very careful but very wise,” she said.

“I find that bishop listens very intently to all of them, to what they say, and really cares and considers their advice profoundly in making the decisions he needs to make,” she added.

Bishop Rhoades expressed his profound gratitude for the work of the Diocesan Review Board, stating that “the members of the Review Board have offered me excellent advice in dealing with cases involving sexual abuse and misconduct. Their expertise and professional advice are invaluable to me and the diocese. They help immensely in the very important task of protecting children and young people in the Church. I think the establishment of review boards as mandated by the charter has been an important part of the Church’s efforts to protect children, assist victims, develop good policies, and assess specific situations. I thank our Review Board for its dedication and hard work.”

Members of the Review Board

Katharine Barrett, M.Div., assistant director of undergraduate ministry, University of Notre Dame, mother of four children.

Msgr. Michael Heintz, Ph.D., rector of St. Matthew Cathedral and director of the Master of Divinity Program at Notre Dame.

Joseph Incandela, Ph.D., professor of Religious Studies, Saint Mary’s College, father of two.

Ida List, youth minister, Sacred Heart Parish, Warsaw, and account manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media and Word on Fire. Mother of four, grandmother of nine.

Carl Loesch, MS, MA, principal of Marian High School, Mishawaka, father of four.

Robert Raster, MD, medical director of Michiana Behavioral Health Center, Plymouth, father of seven.

Stephen Ross, PsyD, clinical and forensic psychologist, Fort Wayne, and president of Clinical & Forensic Psychological Services, PC, father of three.

Donald J. Schmid, JD, assistant U.S. Attorney, South Bend, father of three.

Susan Steibe-Pasalich, Ph.D., director of the University Counseling Center at Notre Dame and member of the National Review Board. Mother of one.

Non-members who assist the review board:

Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, JCL, promoter of justice for the diocese and pastor of St. Monica Parish, Mishawaka.

Msgr. Robert Schulte, vicar general/chancellor for the diocese, and rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne.

Cathie Cicchiello, diocesan Safe Environment coordinator and mother of three, Fort Wayne.

Mary Glowaski, MA, director of the diocesan Secretariat for Evangelization and Special Ministries, Fort Wayne.


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