U.S. Catholic bishops unveil plan to deal with sex-abuse scandal
Thu Aug 16, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC, August 16, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – As shock waves continue following the twin scandals of disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the scathing Pennsylvania Grand Jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse and cover up by Catholic clergy, the president of the USCCB has just announced the American hierarchy’s plan to deal with the scandal.
In an 800 word statement, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), reports the result of a series of meetings with members of the USCCB's Executive Committee and other bishops.
“We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past,” said the USCCB head.
DiNardo’s statement identifies, “three goals and three principles, along with initial steps of a plan that will involve laity, experts, and the Vatican.” He also promises that “A more developed plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.”
Full text of Cardinal DiNardo's statement:
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Those sentiments continue and are deepened in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report. Earlier this week, the USCCB Executive Committee met again and established an outline of these necessary changes.
The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity.
We have already begun to develop a concrete plan for accomplishing these goals, relying upon consultation with experts, laity, and clergy, as well as the Vatican. We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting. In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them.
The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the Church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
Allow me to briefly elaborate on the goals and criteria that we have identified.
The first goal is a full investigation of questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. These answers are necessary to prevent a recurrence, and so help to protect minors, seminarians, and others who are vulnerable in the future. We will therefore invite the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Visitation to address these questions, in concert with a group of predominantly lay people identified for their expertise by members of the National Review Board and empowered to act.
The second goal is to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier. Our 2002 "Statement of Episcopal Commitment" does not make clear what avenue victims themselves should follow in reporting abuse or other sexual misconduct by bishops. We need to update this document. We also need to develop and widely promote reliable third-party reporting mechanisms. Such tools already exist in many dioceses and in the public sector and we are already examining specific options.
The third goal is to advocate for better procedures to resolve complaints against bishops. For example, the canonical procedures that follow a complaint will be studied with an eye toward concrete proposals to make them more prompt, fair, and transparent and to specify what constraints may be imposed on bishops at each stage of that process.
We will pursue these goals according to three criteria.
The first criterion is genuine independence. Any mechanism for addressing any complaint against a bishop must be free from bias or undue influence by a bishop. Our structures must preclude bishops from deterring complaints against them, from hampering their investigation, or from skewing their resolution.
The second criterion relates to authority in the Church. Because only the Pope has authority to discipline or remove bishops, we will assure that our measures will both respect that authority and protect the vulnerable from the abuse of ecclesial power.
Our third criterion is substantial involvement of the laity. Lay people bring expertise in areas of investigation, law enforcement, psychology, and other relevant disciplines, and their presence reinforces our commitment to the first criterion of independence.
Finally, I apologize and humbly ask your forgiveness for what my brother bishops and I have done and failed to do. Whatever the details may turn out to be regarding Archbishop McCarrick or the many abuses in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else), we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership. The result was that scores of beloved children of God were abandoned to face an abuse of power alone. This is a moral catastrophe. It is also part of this catastrophe that so many faithful priests who are pursuing holiness and serving with integrity are tainted by this failure.
We firmly resolve, with the help of God's grace, never to repeat it. I have no illusions about the degree to which trust in the bishops has been damaged by these past sins and failures. It will take work to rebuild that trust. What I have outlined here is only the beginning; other steps will follow. I will keep you informed of our progress toward these goals.
Let me ask you to hold us to all of these resolutions. Let me also ask you to pray for us, that we will take this time to reflect, repent, and recommit ourselves to holiness of life and to conform our lives even more to Christ, the Good Shepherd.
Laymen launch website
- Fri. Aug 17, 2018 - 8:41 pm EST
Bishops, listen to these voices of Catholics you’ve alienated!
WASHINGTON, DC, August 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The normal hum of daily parish life in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, was rudely interrupted a few weeks ago as Catholics began speaking with one another, expressing alarm over our disgraced former Cardinal McCarrick’s lifetime of homosexual abuses.
Incredulity ensued as McCarrick’s ‘brother’ bishops claimed that all this occurred under their collective pastoral noses––noses which detected not even the slightest whiff of suspicious activity, despite belonging to our highest caliber, wise and discerning shepherds.
Then, with the release of the scathing Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation revealing decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests––often covered up by their bishops––alarm has quickly morphed into exasperation and outrage.
Here in Washington, DC, much of that exasperation is now reaching a crescendo with no sign of retreat, and much of it is aimed at our current Cardinal Donald J. Wuerl.
At this point, our prelates would do well to sit still and pay attention to what engaged members of the laity are saying.
Try as they may with their anemic official statements, our American Cardinals and Bishops are frittering away the trust and goodwill they once enjoyed.
Following is a litany of statements from some of the ordinary men and women who fill the pews each Sunday.
Dominic Tondo, a man who is extremely active in men’s ministry in his parish, said:
None of the recent statements from the Archdiocese of Washington, DC address the issue of active homosexual priests and the abuse of young seminarians. This concerns me very much because today’s seminarians are our future priests and the future of the Church.
I would like to know if the Archdiocese of Washington, DC is still actively recruiting homosexual men into the priesthood, as Cardinal McCarrick was as late as 2006 when my son attended a diocesan Men’s Discernment Retreat Weekend? He was shocked when one of the first things that came out of then-Cardinal McCarrick’s mouth was an invitation to gay men; that being gay should not stop you from becoming a priest.
My son wanted to leave the retreat right then and there. It certainly did not make the priesthood look very attractive.
How many other dedicated, qualified young men were turned away by McCarrick’s statement?
From a JPII Institute graduate who has offered years of service to the Church:
There have been plenty of statements made by various Cardinals and Bishops lately, but I’ve yet to hear one of them take responsibility for what they allowed to happen, to renounce their part (active or passive) in allowing this evil to infiltrate the church, to commit to true repentance and penance, and to make resolution to the victims and to all the faithful they shepherd, that this evil will be rooted out and destroyed – even if it means their own resignation and the resignation of the entire college of Bishops.
Nothing less will do. The Bishops cannot be trusted to reform themselves. They have lost the trust of the faithful. They must humble themselves and become priests again, ready to truly serve, protect and listen to their flock.
Laura Quigley, a member of a vibrant suburban Maryland parish, said:
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report is now even more evidence that many in the hierarchy of the Church do not promote or demand chastity among themselves and the clergy and that they do not take seriously their role as fathers and the trust previously bestowed upon them by the faithful.
The laity are indignant.
We know many good, holy and chaste priests who are wounded by these attacks on children and on the priesthood. We need to see real contrition on the part of the bishops and many must take responsibility for knowing and looking the other way and resign. This culture of corruption, unaccountability, and cover-up is not the work of faithful shepherds and must end.
A man from the same parish wondered, “Can the USCCB survive this? Wuerl's claim he was acting on the behalf of victims will be the rope they will hang him with.”
“Every single one of them should be defrocked and thrown in jail,” says Michael Lewis, who once worked for another diocese. “Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, even Francis if he knew/was involved. I won't hold my breath. Pope Francis will issue some BS call for ‘mercy’ and sentence these people to ‘prayer and penance’ in some secluded retreat.”
“Sad to say, but I really don't think most of the bureaucracy cares about the wrongdoing,” continues Lewis. “They care that it was exposed.”
“Pray, yes, but also ACT. Prayer alone ain't gonna do nothing for the MILLIONS of lives affected by psychological issues, alcoholism, addiction, divorce, sexual dysfunction, and on and on caused by the abuse.”
Another thundered, “Raze the USCCB to the ground and salt the soil upon which it stood, and never replicate it.”
Ellen Connolly, from the neighboring diocese of Arlington, Virginia, issued a plea to priests:
To all the rank and file parish priests out there: I implore you, encourage you, and urge you to speak up – loudly and clearly about the scandal. We need to hear from you and know that you are angry, horrified, and prepared to defend each and everyone of us. We need to know that our dignity is worth more than your career. When you avoid speaking on the scandal and stay silent it makes us wonder if one of us were abused, would you stay silent, too?
The silence is deafening. It is so deafening that it will burst the eardrums of the faithful and by the time strong words come many won’t be able to hear.
Ellen explained the awkward position in which the avalanche of scandals has placed parents across the country:
My husband and I had to sit our 5 kids down and break the news to them about the scandal. We wanted them to hear it from us first so that we could help them decipher the news, process the pain and have a clear picture of good and evil.