Resources for the Crisis in the Church
September 19, 2018 - U.S. bishops announce new abuse-prevention measures
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee Statement on Sex Abuse Scandals; Committee Releases Actions to be Taken Within Its Authority
WASHINGTON–The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today in response to the recent sex abuse scandals. In the statement, the bishops say they pledge to “heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.”Turning to the Lord
“When each of us was ordained as a bishop, we were told:
‘Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.’
We, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assembled last week in Washington at this time of shame and sorrow. Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better.
The Administrative Committee took the following actions within its authority:
1. Approved the establishment of a third-party reporting system that will receive confidentially, by phone and online, complaints of sexual abuse of minors by a bishop and sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with adults by a bishop and will direct those complaints to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority and, as required by applicable law, to civil authorities.
2. Instructed the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors or sexual harassment of or misconduct with adults, including seminarians and priests.
3. Initiated the process of developing a Code of Conduct for bishops regarding the sexual abuse of a minor; sexual harassment of or sexual misconduct with an adult; or negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.
4. Supported a full investigation into the situation surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations. Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services.
This is only a beginning. Consultation with a broad range of concerned parents, experts, and other laity along with clergy and religious will yield additional, specific measures to be taken to repair the scandal and restore justice. We humbly welcome and are grateful for the assistance of the whole people of God in holding us accountable.
As these initiatives get underway, the Administrative Committee invites each of our brother bishops to join us in acts of prayer and penance. This is a time of deep examination of conscience for each bishop. We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient. Scripture must be our guide forward, “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
In all of this, we do not want anyone – ourselves included – to lose sight of those who have suffered from those who have acted or failed to act as the Gospel demanded. For survivors of sexual abuse, these days may re-open deep wounds. Support is available from the Church and within the community. Victims Assistance Coordinators are available in every diocese to help you find resources. We are grateful to hundreds of dedicated people who, since the adoption of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse.
To anyone who has been abused, never hesitate to also contact local law enforcement. If you don’t feel comfortable for any reason with the Church providing help, your diocese can connect you with appropriate community services. With compassion and without judgement, the bishops of the United States pledge to heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us.
Acting in communion with the Holy Father, with whom we once again renew our love, obedience, and loyalty, we make our own the prayer of Pope Francis in his August 20 letter to the people of God, “May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.”
Click on the link below to read an article about these measures from the Catholic News Agency.
Letter from Bishop Noonan - September 6, 2018
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At the end of August, I returned from Ireland. While there I was blessed to con-celebrate Mass with Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families. I am of Irish descent, born and raised for most of my life in Limerick. As I was growing up, the Catholic Church and Ireland seemed to be one. But, with the knowledge of sexual misconduct within the Church, this Catholicity was challenged and changed. So, as I processed into the Mass on Sunday, August 26, I was overwhelmed by the one-half million faithful who participated in this celebration. The media may never acknowledge this extraordinary number of faithful, but it struck me that those in attendance exceeded the number of registered Catholics in our Diocese of Orlando. I was humbled by the Holy Spirit filling the space of the earth, despite all the ‘bad news’ spurred through the Irish media during the time I visited.
St. James, in speaking with the early Christians, asks, “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?” I have received your letters, your emails, and I pray for you as you are suffering. As Christ is beside me, before me, I pray for your forgiveness for the wrongdoing that you may have experienced at the hands of someone within the Church, whether bishop, priest, religious or lay. I pray for you as I know the news stories are disconcerting. The words you write pierce my heart as they speak of leaving the Church with maxims or ultimatums, ‘if I don’t do this or that.’ St. James tell us we, in our sinfulness, create the conflicts, not God. Are we becoming pharisaical where our interpretation of God’s law takes precedence over the teaching of the Gospel?
Please don’t let your faith be about the current pope or the current bishop or your pastor or any priest. Please let your faith be about the gift of the Eucharist, God among us, to be in communion with God because of Jesus Christ.
But the Church is also built upon our relationship with each other through our relationship with God. Our faithfulness does not mean we should ignore failings and do nothing about them. This is our Salvation story from the beginning of time; from Moses confronting the Israelites who built the golden calf; to Jesus in the Temple sanctifying it and rejecting it as a marketplace; to Jesus giving up His last breath that we might live. My response to your question to me, ‘what am I going to do about the latest news stories’, is an invitation to join me in this blessing of purification.
I join Cardinal DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and my brother bishops to receive the Holy Father’s support to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, to advise the lay faithful of credible allegations, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops, including an independent investigation of any allegation. I am confident Pope Francis shares our desire for greater effectiveness and transparency in the matter of disciplining
bishops. I join my brother bishops in renewing our fraternal affection for the Holy Father during these difficult days.
During the Priests’ Convocation, I called upon all our priests to observe September as a penitential month and to set aside a penitential day of prayer and fasting during the month of September. If you are willing, I invite you to also observe a penitential day of prayer and fasting this month. My day of prayer and fasting is September 12, the Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Mary is our ‘Advocate.’ As such, she has maternal mindfulness of us and is attentive to our needs.
Be holy. The Church is holy. May we set aside disparaging words and conflict and cultivate peace; not the peace as the world understands it, but the Peace which comes from forgiveness, its source from Christ on the Cross.
Prayer of Forgiveness
As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Diocese of Orlando, I pray that you stay with us, O Lord. I come before you humbly and I ask forgiveness for the cases of abuse in the Diocese of Orlando, the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse on the part of representatives of this local Church. We ask forgiveness.
I ask forgiveness for all those times when, as a Church, we did not offer to the victims of any type of abuse compassion and the pursuit of justice and truth by concrete actions. We ask forgiveness.
I ask forgiveness for some members of the hierarchy who took no responsibility for these painful situations and kept silent. We ask forgiveness.
Grant me the strength to be vigilant and safeguard Your holy people. Amen.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend John Noonan Bishop of Orlando
Letter From our Pastor, Fr. Stephen Parkes - September 2, 2018
Dear Friends in Christ,
This week, we continue to hear news reports and developments regarding the McCarrick abuse case, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and now the 11 page testimony of Archbishop Vigano, the former Papal Nuncio to the United States. I would like to make sure that as a parish community, we are provided with trustworthy and reliable resources on this crisis affecting the Church. Therefore, we have set up a page on our website: www.annunciationorlando.org/resources. I encourage you to read through the information provided on this page.
As this difficult situation continues to unfold, please join me in praying first and foremost for those who have been victimized by sexual abuse or any other type of abuse. In the midst of all the media coverage and commentary, we want to be sure to remember and care for the innocent who were victimized and ensure the promotion of justice. I also pray that this time of purification for the Church will bring forth questions and answers regarding these cases and how they were handled. A thorough and urgent investigation by independent lay professionals is being called for and is necessary. As Jesus tells us in John 8:32: and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. When I come before the Lord, please know that I remember you, your loved ones and your intentions. Thank you for your support and prayers. May we meet each day in our prayers.
Very Rev. Stephen D. Parkes, V.F.,
August 27, 2018 - Bishop Barron Q&A about the Sexual Abuse Crises
August 27, 2018 - President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:
“In communion with the Holy Father, I join the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in taking upon ourselves his exhortation, ‘this open wound [of abuse] challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.’
“On August 1st, I promised that USCCB would exercise the full extent of its authority, and would advocate before those with greater authority, to pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. On August 16th, I called for an Apostolic Visitation, working in concert with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to seek the truth. Yesterday, I convened our Executive Committee once again, and it reaffirmed the call for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.
“The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination. The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.
“I am eager for an audience with the Holy Father to earn his support for our plan of action. That plan includes more detailed proposals to: seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops. Inspired by his recent letter to the people of God, and his motu proprio of two years ago, As a Loving Mother, I am confident Pope Francis shares our desire for greater effectiveness and transparency in the matter of disciplining bishops. We renew our fraternal affection for the Holy Father in these difficult days.
“To the survivors of abuse and the families who have lost a loved one to abuse, I am sorry. You are no longer alone. Since 2002, hundreds of professionally trained staff across the country have been working with the Church to support survivors and prevent future abuse. Nationwide, the Church has a zero-tolerance policy toward priests and deacons who abuse, safe environment training, background checks for those working around children, victim assistance coordinators, prompt reporting to civil authorities, and lay review boards in dioceses.
“In other ways, we have failed you. This is especially true for adults being sexually harassed by those in positions of power, and for any abuse or harassment perpetrated by a bishop. We will do better. The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church’s firm foundation is Jesus Christ. The failures of men cannot diminish the light of the Gospel. Lord, by the help of your mercy, show us the way to salvation.”
Recording from announcements on August 19, 2018 from Fr. Stephen Parkes at the 5:30pm Mass:
August 20, 2018 - Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God
1. If one member suffers…
In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.
With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).
2. … all suffer together with it
The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).
I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.
Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command. This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.
It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.
It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).
It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.
Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.
In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.
May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.
Vatican City, 20 August 2018
 “But this kind [of demon] does not come out except by prayer and fasting” (Mt 17:21).
 Cf. Letter to the Pilgrim People of God in Chile (31 May 2018).
August 16, 2018 - Statement from Bishop John Noonan and Resources from the Diocese of Orlando on Safe Environment
August 16, 2018 - President of U.S. Bishops' Conference Announces Effort That Will Involve Laity, Experts, and the Vatican as U.S. Bishops Resolve to Address "Moral Catastrophe"
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement after a series of meetings with members of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and other bishops. The following statement includes three goals and three principles, along with initial steps of a plan that will involve laity, experts, and the Vatican. A more developed plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:
“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.”
WASHINGTON— El Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo de Galveston-Houston, presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos (USCCB por su sigla en inglés), emitió el siguiente comunicado después de una serie de reuniones con miembros del Comité Ejecutivo de la USCCB y otros Obispos. El siguiente comunicado incluye tres objetivos y tres principios, así como pasos iniciales de un plan que involucrará laicos, expertos y el Vaticano. Un plan más detallado será presentado al cuerpo de Obispos en su reunión de la Asamblea General en noviembre en Baltimore.
A continuación, el pronunciamiento del Cardinal DiNardo:
“Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,
Hace dos semanas, compartí con ustedes mi tristeza, enojo y vergüenza vinculadas con las recientes revelaciones del arzobispo Theodore McCarrick. Estos sentimientos se mantienen y se han profundizado a la luz del informe del Gran Jurado de Pennsylvania. Estamos frente a una crisis espiritual que requiere no solamente una conversión espiritual, sino cambios prácticos para evitar repetir los pecados y fallas del pasado que se han puesto en evidencia en este reciente informe. A principios de la semana, el Comité Ejecutivo de la USCCB se reunió nuevamente y estableció un esquema de estos cambios necesarios.
El Comité Ejecutivo ha establecido tres objetivos: (1) una investigación vinculada con las cuestiones relacionadas al arzobispo McCarrick; (2) la apertura de nuevos y confidenciales canales de información para reportar las quejas contra los Obispos; y (3) abogar por una más efectiva resolución de quejas futuras. Estos objetivos serán perseguidos de conformidad con tres criterios: independencia adecuada, autoridad suficiente y liderazgo significativo por los laicos.
Ya hemos iniciado el desarrollo de un plan concreto para alcanzar estos objetivos, basados en consultas con expertos, laicos y el clero, así como el Vaticano. Presentaremos este plan al cuerpo de Obispos en nuestra reunión de noviembre. Además, viajaré a Roma para presentar estos objetivos y criterios ante la Santa Sede, e urgir pasos concretos y adicionales basados en ellos.
El principal objetivo en todo esto es crear protecciones más fuertes contra depredadores en la Iglesia y cualquiera que los encubra, protecciones que mantendrán a los obispos en los estándares más altos de transparencia y responsabilidad.
Permítanme desarrollar brevemente sobre los objetivos y criterios que hemos identificado.
El primer objetivo es una completa investigación de las cuestiones alrededor del arzobispo McCarrick. Estas respuestas son necesarias para prevenir la recurrencia y de esta manera proteger a los menores, seminaristas y otros quienes puedan ser vulnerables en el futuro. Consecuentemente, invitaremos al Vaticano a adelantar una “Visita Apostólica” para tratar estos asuntos, en concordancia con un grupo de predominantemente laicos identificados por su conocimiento por los miembros de la Junta Nacional de Revisión y empoderados para actuar.
El segundo objetivo es hacer más fácil el reporte de los abusos y conductas inapropiadas de los Obispos. Nuestro “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” del 2002 no deja claro que camino pueden tomar las victimas por si mismas para informar los abusos y otras conductas sexuales inapropiadas por parte de los obispos. Necesitamos actualizar este documento. Necesitamos también desarrollar y promover ampliamente mecanismos confiables de reporte de terceras partes. Estas herramientas ya existen en muchas diócesis y en el sector público y nosotros estamos ya examinando opciones específicas.
El tercer objetivo es abogar por mejores procedimientos para resolver las quejas contra los obispos. Por ejemplo, los procedimientos canónicos que se siguen para una queja serán estudiados con un énfasis sobre propuestas concretas para hacerlos más agiles, equitativos y transparentes y para especificar que restricciones pueden ser impuestas a los obispos en cada etapa de ese proceso.
Buscaremos estos objetivos de conformidad con tres criterios.
El primer criterio es independencia genuina. Cualquier mecanismo que considere una queja contra un obispo debe ser libre de parcialidad o de excesiva influencia por parte de un obispo. Nuestras estructuras deben impedir a los obispos de desalentar quejas en su contra, de obstruir su investigación o de sesgar su resolución.
El Segundo criterio se relaciona con la autoridad de la Iglesia. Toda vez que sólo el Papa tiene la autoridad para disciplinar o remover a los obispos, nos aseguraremos de que nuestras medidas respeten tanto esa autoridad como la protección de los vulnerables ante el abuso del poder eclesiástico.
Nuestro tercer criterio es el involucramiento sustantivo del laicismo. Los laicos brindan experiencia a la investigación, aplicación de la ley, psicología y otras disciplinas pertinentes, y su presencia fortalece nuestro compromiso ante el primer criterio de independencia.
Finalmente, lamento y pido humildemente su perdón por lo que mis hermanos obispos y yo hemos hecho o dejado de hacer. Cualesquiera sean los detalles que surjan en relación al arzobispo McCarrick o de los muchos abusos en Pennsylvania (o en cualquier otra parte), ya sabemos que una causa arraigada es la falla del liderazgo episcopal. El resultado fue que un número de amados niños de Dios fueron abandonados para enfrentar solos un abuso de poder. Esto es una catástrofe moral. Es también parte de esta catástrofe que muchos sacerdotes fieles quienes están buscando santidad y sirviendo con integridad estén manchados por esta falta.
Estamos firmemente resueltos, con la ayuda de la gracia de Dios, a que nunca se repita. No me hago ilusiones acerca del grado en el cual la confianza en los obispos haya sido dañada por estos pasados pecados y faltas. Hará falta trabajo para reconstruir esa confianza. Lo que he destacado aquí es solo el comienzo; otros pasos seguirán. Los mantendré informados de nuestro avance hacia el logro de estos objetivos.
Permítanme pedirles que se mantengan pendientes con todas estas resoluciones. Permítanme también pedirles que recen por nosotros, que tomará tiempo para reflexionar, arrepentirnos y recomprometernos con la santidad de la vida e imitar nuestras vidas cada vez más con Cristo, el Buen Pastor.
Palabras claves: Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos, USCCB, Cardenal, Cardinal Daniel N. Dinardo, Comité Ejecutivo, Abuso sexual de clérigos, Pennsylvania, Informe del Gran Jurado, arzobispo Theodore McCarrick, Laicos, expertos, Vaticano, transparencia, responsabilidad.