Project Description

In the last few weeks, we as a parish have continued to work through the pain and anger caused by the latest wave of scandals in the Church.  We had a parish listening session in which we talked, voiced our questions and frustrations, and tried to help each other move forward.  We had an Evening of Prayer for Healing in Our Church, in which Deacon Joe’s difficult-but-hopeful homily helped us to gather together in prayer.  We joined the diocese in a day of prayer and fasting as a step toward making reparations for the sins of our Church.  I hope that our participation in these activities, as well as our individual prayers and penances, have been a source of hope during a difficult time.

 

One question that has continued to surface throughout these last few weeks has been, “What next?  What can we do to keep this from ever happening again?”  While a lot has been done since 2002 to improve the screening and formation of seminarians and volunteers, and to remove unfit clergy from ministry, a lot of the shock and outrage involves the lack of transparency and accountability on the part of Church leadership.  This is an area in which people want to see real, meaningful change.

 

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which includes all of our nation’s bishops, met in September to come up with concrete goals for reform.  Here are the priorities they listed:

 

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

All of the bishops will meet in November, and I expect that these four priorities will be the bulk of their agenda.  I will continue to keep you informed through the bulletin as we hear more specifics about how this reform will be accomplished.  I also encourage you to follow these November meetings using a trusted news service.  (I like Catholic News Service – www.catholicnews.com – which gives the original text of speeches and documents without adding a lot of spin or commentary.)  If we are to have meaningful reform that helps restore the authenticity of our mission, then we have to keep following this situation long after it fades from the headlines.  As always, let me know if there’s anything more you think the parish can do to help parishioners during this difficult time.