The U.S. bishops’ conference called for a Vatican-led investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and cover-ups surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, as well for new abuse reporting processes, and greater involvement of laity in addressing abuse concerns.
“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,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, in an Aug. 16 statement.
The bishops will invite the Vatican to conduct an official Apostolic Visitation to the United States to address questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, in consultation with the lay members of the National Review Board, DiNardo said.
Previously the U.S. bishops did not “make clear what avenue victims themselves should follow in reporting abuse or other sexual misconduct by bishops,” acknowledged DiNardo, who called for the development of “reliable third-party reporting mechanisms.”
Among the bishops’ goals is to make canonical procedures for complaints against bishops “more prompt, fair, and transparent” and “to specify what constraints may be imposed on bishops at each stage of that process.”
DiNardo outlined three criteria for how the bishops will approach past and future abuses: independence from bias or undue influence by a bishop, substantial involvement of the laity, and respect for proper authority in the Church.
DiNardo ended the bishops’ statement with an apology:
“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.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.