While the news headlines regarding the scandals in the Church has died down for now, it’s important for you to know that this doesn’t mean that the issue is being ignored. The U.S. Bishops met last month, and putting in new protocols to deal with abuse allegations was at the top of their agenda. Their original hope was to vote on new standards of conduct for Bishops, as well as on the creation of a new commission to review complaints against Bishops for violating these standards. Their agenda also included proposals for a third-party reporting mechanism, as well as protocols for Bishops who have resigned or were removed because of abuse.
Unfortunately, the Vatican requested that the Bishops postpone their vote until after February. The Pope is calling a meeting in February for the presidents of all the Bishops Conferences throughout the world, and he indicated that he wants these types of protocols to be consistent across the world. He also wants to make sure that these proposals conform with canon law.
The Bishops expressed disappointment with this request. The President of the Conference said that “We have accepted it with disappointment…We have not lessened in any of our resolve for actions. We are going to work intensely on these items of action. We can’t vote on them totally, but clarify them, get them more intensely canonically well, so that Rome will see that. We’re going to keep pushing and moving until we get to a point where they become action.”
I had hoped that there would be something more definite to report to you after the November meeting, but I think it’s important for you to know that concrete actions are being discussed at the highest levels in our Church. At the listening session in the fall, one of the most common sentiments/frustrations expressed was, “What can we do to keep this from happening again?” I’ll continue to make you aware of new developments. God willing, the Bishops will be able to take decisive action early in 2019 to make their leadership more accountable and transparent. In the meantime, please continue to pray vigorously for our Church and her leadership. Although the media attention may have decreased, the need for prayer and penance have not.