BALTIMORE – On Tuesday, November 13, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ independent lay advisory panel on the protection of children and young people delivered a special report to the body of U.S. bishops regarding the abuse crisis in the church.
In an address to the bishops gathered in Baltimore for their annual Fall General Assembly, National Review Board chairman Francesco Cesareo outlined key reforms and urged action.
The report calls for broadening the scope of the Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People to include bishops, the publication of complete lists of credibly accused clergy in all dioceses, improving the audit process and enhancing accountability for bishops, the USCCB noted in a press release.
“For many years, you, along with the clergy, religious, and laity of your dioceses, have toiled to extinguish the fires of the sexual abuse crisis. Those efforts have not been in vain,” Cesareo told the bishops, noting that “many of the problems of the abuse crisis” have been successfully addressed.
“Nonetheless, your response to this crisis has been incomplete,” he said. “Specifically, current events reveal a continued lack of transparency about past cases of abuse and the way they were handled, as well as a lack of accountability for bishops.”
Citing the Pennsylvania grand jury report, Cesareo said, “It is shameful that the sin of abuse was hidden and allowed to fester until uncovered by the secular world.”
When allegations arise, bishops must put victims first, he said, adding, “How many souls have been lost because of this crisis?”
“Today, the faithful and the clergy do not trust many of you,” he told the bishops. “They are angry and frustrated, no longer satisfied with words and even with prayer.”
To regain trust, the bishops must take action that “signals a cultural change,” embrace “openness and transparency,” and “come to terms with the past.”
“There cannot be reconciliation without full acknowledgement of the truth,” Cesareo said.
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