- Purpose. The Advisory Council functions as a confidential consultative body to the Bishop.
The Advisory Council assesses allegations of clerical misconduct, including violations of the Code of Conduct, canon law, the employee handbook, or other diocesan policies; the Advisory Council provides advice to the Bishop regarding the results of the assessment; and the Advisory Council reviews diocesan policies and procedures for dealing with clerical misconduct and recommends changes to these policies and procedures as appropriate.
a) Members. The members of the Advisory Council will be composed of five to seven persons of outstanding integrity and good judgment in full communion with the Church. All members will be lay persons who are not in the employ of the Diocese; no more than one member may be employed by organizations or agencies affiliated with the Diocese, e.g., a Catholic school or Catholic charity agency.
b) Term for Members. Terms for members of the Advisory Council will be five years, which can be renewed once. Terms for the members of the inaugural Advisory Council may be less than five years to allow for staggering of members’ terms. The Bishop may remove a member of the Advisory Council at any time for violating the Code of Conduct or for other grave reason. Vacancies—whether occurring by resignation, removal, or expiration of a term—are filled by appointment of the Bishop.
c) The diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Safe Environment Coordinator, Vicar for Clergy, and General Counsel serve as a resource panel for the Advisory Council and may participate in the meetings of the Advisory Council. The Bishop also designates canonical counsel for the Advisory Council to assist the Advisory Council and who may also attend the meetings of the Advisory Council. The diocesan General Counsel serves as the primary liaison between the Advisory Council and the Bishop.
- Chair of the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council will select a Chair from among its members, except that the Bishop will select the inaugural Chair. The Chair presides at meetings and, in coordination with the diocesan General Counsel, sets the agenda for the meetings. When the Chair is unavailable for a meeting, the Advisory Council will select another member to preside at that meeting. Where appropriate, the Chair serves as the public representative of the Advisory Council. At least annually, the Chair will meet personally with the Bishop to report on recent activities of the Advisory Council.
- Meeting Procedure. The Advisory Council meets at least annually; additional meetings will be convened as needed upon referral of an allegation, by request of a majority of the Advisory Council, or by request of the Diocese. A majority of the members of the Advisory Council constitutes a quorum. The Chair presides at meetings of the Advisory Council. The goal is to reach consensus; a report of all views will be given to the Bishop.
- Confidentiality and Ethics. The information received by the Advisory Council, unless independently made public, is confidential. The discussions that occur at meetings of the Advisory Council are confidential, except that they may be shared with the Bishop or his delegates at the request of the Bishop. Confidentiality is an essential element of service on the Advisory Council.
No member of the Advisory Council will speak or interact individually with an alleged victim or an accused cleric, except within the scope of the member's work with the Advisory Council. Members shall recuse themselves from a matter in accordance with the circumstances enumerated in canons 492 §3, 1298 & 1448.
- Cooperation with Law Enforcement. The Diocese of Lansing cooperates with law enforcement regarding all allegations of criminal activity. Before an allegation is referred to the Advisory Council, diocesan General Counsel will refer the allegation to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Likewise, the Victim Assistance Coordinator encourages victims to report crimes directly to law enforcement. Law enforcement may, from time to time, request the Diocese to defer an investigation of an allegation until the applicable law enforcement investigation is complete; the Diocese and the Advisory Council will cooperate with such a request insofar as the deferral does not become a barrier to justice.
1 Can. 1448 §1 The judge is not to undertake the hearing of a case in which any personal interest may be involved by reason of consanguinity or affinity in any degree of the direct line and up to the fourth degree of the collateral line, or by reason of guardianship or tutelage, or of close acquaintanceship or marked hostility or possible financial profit or loss.
- Sexual Abuse of Minor. Allegations of sexual abuse of a minor are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Advisory Council and are referred to the Review Board regarding Sexual Abuse of a Minor.
- Investigation. For allegations of grave misconduct, before the allegation is referred to the Advisory Council, the Diocese will retain a private investigator to investigate the allegation. For other allegations, the Diocese may retain a private investigator to investigate or may refer the allegation directly to the Advisory Council. If the allegation is more appropriately investigated by another diocese or religious order, the Diocese will coordinate with that diocese or religious order to ensure that the allegation is investigated. At the next meeting of the Advisory Council, diocesan General Counsel will update the Advisory Council regarding any pending allegations and investigations. Upon completion of the investigation, the Diocese will refer the allegation, including the investigative report and supporting exhibits, to the Advisory Council for consideration.
During the investigation, the accused enjoys the presumption of innocence, and all appropriate steps shall be taken to protect his reputation.
- Suspension of cleric. Upon receipt of an allegation of misconduct, the Bishop may determine that there is an immediate need to suspend a cleric from ministry during the investigation. Before a suspended cleric is returned to ministry, the allegation will be referred to the Advisory Council.
- Written Narrative. When diocesan staff notifies the Advisory Council that it is being convened to review an allegation of clerical misconduct, diocesan staff will provide to the accused cleric a written narrative of the accusation and any other misconduct that the Council is considering. The accused cleric may submit to diocesan staff a written response for submission to the Advisory Council.
- Counsel to the Bishop. The Bishop seeks the assistance of the Advisory Council in determining how best to respond to allegations of clerical misconduct.
a) The Advisory Council assesses the allegation of clerical misconduct.
b) The Advisory Council advises the Bishop regarding possible penalties or rehabilitation for the offending cleric.
c) The Advisory Council may advise the Bishop of any recommendations it has regarding the type(s) of assistance, if any, that the Diocese should provide to the alleged victim.
d) The Advisory Council shall present its conclusions to the Bishop, either at the close of a meeting, at a later time to be promptly arranged, or through diocesan staff.
- Response by Bishop. The Bishop will consider the recommendations of the Advisory Council, will follow canon law, and will notify the Advisory Council of his decision.
- Timing. To the extent possible in light of professional and familial responsibilities, members of the Advisory Council are to prioritize this work, and execute their responsibilities in a timely manner at every stage.
- Access to Diocesan Policies and Procedures and other Information. The Diocese of Lansing will provide the Advisory Council access to its policies and procedures, including these Statutes, regarding clerical misconduct. At any time, the Advisory Council may recommend changes in any of these policies and procedures. The Council may also request access to other information from diocesan files.
- Prayer. A member of the Advisory Council understands that this work is accomplished through a firm commitment to prayer, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the Bishop and the Advisory Council, and God's peace and healing for the alleged victim, the accused cleric, and anyone else involved in the matter.
- Faithful Service. In both personal and professional life, a member of the Advisory Council must exemplify the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. The member must not teach, advocate, model, or in any way encourage beliefs or behaviors that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Each member of the Advisory Council will sign the diocesan Code of Conduct.
I approve and promulgate these Statutes by means of this executory decree. I order that they are to take immediate effect, and be communicated by publication on the diocesan website.
Given at the curia of the Diocese of Lansing on this seventh day of February in the year of Our Lord, 2020.
Most Reverend Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing
Mr. Michael Andrews