Reporting Abuse or Misconduct of a Catholic Bishop

If you suspect abuse of any kind, your first call should be to law enforcement. Learn more.

To report sexual abuse or related misconduct by a Catholic bishop, we encourage you to contact law enforcement.  To report such abuse or misconduct* to the Church, you should contact the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) service. CBAR is a third-party reporting service that gathers and routes reports to the appropriate Church authorities for investigation. Individuals may go to ReportBishopAbuse.org in order to make a report in English or Spanish. Reports are also accepted via 800-276-1562 in both languages. Find out more about CBAR here.

You may also contact a lay person designated to receive reports of abuse or misconduct by a bishop:

  • To make a report about any bishop within the states of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota (Provence of Saint Cloud and Minneapolis), including a deceased bishop, you may contact attorney Thomas L. Johnson, volunteer ombudsperson for the Archdiocese. Johnson may be reached directly at 612-632-3207 or via email at thomas.johnson@gpmlaw.com. Learn more here.
  • To make a report about Archbishop Bernard Hebda, you may contact Roxann Storms, in the Diocese of Saint Cloud, directly at (320) 248-1563 or via email at rstorms@gw.stcdio.org.

Other ways to report abuse or misconduct by a bishop include:

  • Contacting the Archdiocese directly by emailing reportbishopabuse@archspm.org or calling 651-291-4400.
  • Contacting the apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. – for any bishop within the United States – directly at 202-333-7121 or via email at nuntiususa@nuntiususa.org.

Sexual abuse by a priest, deacon or a staff member or volunteer of the Church within the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis should be reported first to law enforcement, then to the Archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Program at 651-291-4475. Additionally, the Archdiocese partners with Canvas Health, an independent and professional local care provider, to offer confidential, compassionate assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 651-291-4497. Visit archspm.org/reportabuse to learn more.

For complaints not related to abuse or misconduct – such as parish assignments, church closings or homily contents within the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis – please contact the Office of the Archbishop directly to share your concerns with Archbishop Hebda.

* CBAR was designed to respond only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct. If you have any other kind of complaint about a bishop—such as parish assignments, church closings, or homily contents—please address those directly to your bishop instead.

About Ombudsperson Thomas Johnson

The role of ombudsperson is part of the Settlement Agreement reached with the Ramsey County Attorney’s office in December of 2015 and amended in July of 2016. The ombudsperson is entirely independent of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. Attorney Thomas Johnson serves as the ombudsperson for anyone who has questions or concerns in regards to a sexual abuse case involving the Archdiocese. He can also offer assistance in determining where to make a report for a bishop or a deceased bishop of another jurisdiction.

Thomas Johnson is a principal attorney at the Minneapolis law firm of Gray Plant Mooty, and served as Hennepin County Attorney from 1979 to 1991. He has been recognized for his work on behalf of children and underserved groups, and for his commitment to excellence in the legal profession.

Please contact Mr. Johnson directly at 612-632-3207 or via email at thomas.johnson@gpmlaw.com.

About CBAR

CBAR has been established to receive reports of sexual abuse and related misconduct by bishops, and to relay those reports to proper Church authorities for investigation. Where a report includes a crime, such as the sexual abuse of a minor, it will also be reported to civil authorities.

This new reporting system is in response to Pope Francis’ May 2019 apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), to address the issue of sexual abuse and bishop accountability in the global Catholic Church.

CBAR 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.

After receiving an allegation of abuse or misconduct against a Catholic bishop, Convercent will forward it to the Metropolitan Archbishop in the region where the abuse and misconduct is alleged to have occurred. In Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, Archbishop Bernard Hebda will receive the allegation and lead the investigation. If an allegation is made against Archbishop Hebda, it will be sent to Bishop of Saint Cloud, Donald Kettler.

Frequently Asked Questions About CBAR

What is the purpose of this service?

The purpose of the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) service is to provide a third-party service for gathering and relaying to appropriate Church authorities reports of the following kinds of misconduct:

  • A 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;
  • or, a U.S. diocesan or eparchial bishop, or other cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who, in the exercise of their office, intentionally

interfered with a civil or Church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious.

What kinds of reports should not be made through this service?

All other complaints against bishops, such as theological concerns, liturgical abuses, church closings, priest assignments, etc., are beyond the scope of this reporting service. Such complaints should not be made through this reporting service.

If you wish to report sexual abuse or misconduct by other clergy or Church personnel other than a bishop, please contact contact law enforcement first, then contact the archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Program at 651-291-4475. Visit archspm.org/reportabuse for more information.

Although Church authorities who receive reports of the sexual abuse of a minor and certain other crimes will report them to civil authorities as required by law, this service is not intended as a substitute for calling the police. If you feel that you are the victim of a crime, please contact local law enforcement immediately.

Will this service respect my privacy?

Although reports made through this service will be routed to appropriate Church personnel and, as warranted, civil authorities for investigation purposes, the reports will otherwise be kept confidential. You are not required to provide your name or contact information, although you may choose to do so to facilitate the investigative process. Any data submitted will be protected through enhanced encryption.

What should be included in a report?

Your report must include:

  • the name of the U.S. Catholic bishop you are reporting;
  • a description of the allegation, the place where it occurred, and the timeframe of when it occurred, as best you can

It will be helpful if the report also includes as many relevant details as possible, such as the names of other individuals involved, as well as dates, times, known circumstances, or other information useful to assess the facts of the situation.

What happens to a report once it is submitted?

  • You will be given an access number and personal password that can be used to follow-up on the status of your report. The service can provide automated status reports at a very general level, but it can also provide a confidential avenue of communication for asking more detailed questions about status.
  • Your report will be forwarded to the proper Church authority, usually a Metropolitan archbishop (or a Senior Suffragan bishop if the report is about the Metropolitan, or if the Metropolitan See is vacant). All of the information you provide will be forwarded without any editing or
  • At the same time, your report will be forwarded to a lay person who has been designated to assist the bishop in receiving
  • Some reports, such as those involving minors, will be reported to law
  • The Metropolitan (or Senior Suffragan) and designated lay person will review the
  • The Metropolitan will then send your report to the Apostolic Nuncio along with an initial
  • The Apostolic Nuncio will then send your report and the Metropolitan’s initial assessment to the appropriate authority within the Holy
  • Within thirty days, the Holy See will determine if a formal investigation is If so, it will authorize a bishop to oversee the investigation.
  • If an investigation is ordered, it will be undertaken by qualified experts, including lay persons. Normally, the investigation is to be completed within 90 days of receiving the order from the Holy
  • Once the Holy See receives the conclusions of the investigation, the Holy See will initiate the appropriate process that will lead to a final

Who is providing this service?

  • This third-party reporting system is provided by Convercent, Inc., which is a commercial vendor of ethics reporting services and has no authority within the Catholic Church.The service reflects Convercent’s standard design for confidentially receiving and relaying reports, additionally tailored to fit the requirements of Church law. The service is paid for by the 197 dioceses and eparchies of the United States. The service is operated by the Metropolitan archbishops and Senior Suffragan bishops of each province, with the assistance of the designated lay people corresponding to each.

Who investigates the reports entered into this service?

  • Neither Convercent nor the third-party system conducts any investigation. Instead, the system only gathers and routes reports to the appropriate Church officials in a manner consistent with canon law, so that they in turn can be investigated. Only those Church officials delegated with authority by the Holy See can conduct a Church investigation of a bishop. Some reports, such as those of sexual abuse of a minor, will be conveyed to civil authorities as well. In those cases, Church officials will suspend any canonical action in deference to an investigation being conducted by civil authorities when they so request.

Which bishops are covered by this service?

  • This reporting service may be used to report the actions or inactions of living U.S. Catholic bishops, whether active or retired, of U.S. dioceses or eparchies. This includes the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter and bishops of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and current diocesan and apostolic administrators of vacant U.S. sees.

Resources

Additional information and resources regarding the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service may be found below.