Catholic bishops told to follow own policies against abuse
Amid continuing headlines about cover-ups of child abuse in the Catholic Church, an oversight board of lay Catholics on Wednesday (June 13) warned the nation’s bishops that they must follow their own policies against abuse more rigorously if they hope to restore their fragile credibility.
“If there is anything that needs to be disclosed in a diocese, it needs to be disclosed now,” Al J. Notzon III, head of the bishops’ National Review Board, told some 200 prelates gathered in Atlanta for their annual spring meeting. “No one can no longer claim they didn’t know.”
The meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops comes 10 years after the hierarchy met in Dallas and passed a series of reforms to respond to a siege of bad publicity about sex abuse by priests. It also comes as a jury in Philadelphia weighs the fate of a high-ranking priest who’s facing criminal charges of concealing abuse by clerics, and as a bishop from Missouri awaits trial on charges that he failed to report a suspected child molester to authorities.
In his review of the church’s track record over the past decade, Notzon did not mention the Philadelphia or Missouri cases by name, nor any of the other periodic lapses by bishops over the 10 years since the USCCB passed the so-called Dallas Charter.
While the charter called for punishing priests with a one-strike policy and instituted programs to safeguard children in Catholic parishes and schools, it did not provide any mechanism for disciplining bishops who flout the charter’s provisions. [more]