News: USCCB Statement on Clergy Abuse

Just released from the USCCB.

President of USCCB Reiterates Bishops’ Resolve to Deal Firmly with Clerics Who Abuse Children

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Clerics who sexually abuse minors are forbidden from ministry
Backs April Child Abuse Prevention Month for protection of children
Implementation of Charter to protect children must continue

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2011)—Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reiterated the U.S. bishops’ resolve to deal firmly with clerics who abuse children in a March 22 statement.
            
He highlighted and endorsed efforts by bishops, clergy and laity to implement the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was drafted by the bishops in 2002 to deal with the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by clericsArchbishop Dolan said child abusers will not be tolerated in ministry.
            
“We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense,” he said. 
            
The statement was developed during the USCCB Administrative Committee meeting in Washington. The Administrative Committee is the highest ranking body of bishops when the full body is not in session. It meets every September, March and November.
            
The full statement follows.

In light of the recent disclosures about the Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors by priests, I have been asked by my brother bishops, gathered for the recent meeting of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to offer reassurances that this painful issue continues to receive our careful attention, that the protection of our children and young people is of highest priority, and that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that we adopted in 2002 remains strongly in place.

Over the past nine years, we have constantly reviewed the high promises and rigorous mandates of the Charter, as we continually try to make it even more effective.  Thanks to the input of our National Review Board, Catholic parents, professionals, the victim-survivor community, law enforcement officials, and our diocesan victim-assistance coordinators, we keep refining the efficiency of theCharter.  We want to learn from our mistakes and we welcome constructive criticism.  In fact, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a long-planned review of the Charter scheduled for our June meeting.

The arrival of April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, provides us the providential opportunity to unite with all Americans in a renewed resolve to halt the scourge of sexual abuse of youth in our society.

We bishops recommit ourselves to the rigorous mandates of the Charter, and renew our confidence in its effectiveness.  We repeat what we have said in the Charter: “We make our own the words of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II: that the sexual abuse of young people is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God” (Address to the Cardinals of the United States and Conference Officers, April 23, 2002).   We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense.

The annual outside audits by forensic experts will continue, checking that we remain faithful to the processes in place to protect our young people, promote healing of victims/survivors and restore trust.  We also thank our diocesan review boards, and those who lead our extensive programs of child protection and background checks for all priests, deacons, teachers, youth workers and volunteers in our expansive apostolates to young people.

In short, the progress made must continue and cannot be derailed; we want to strengthen it even more; we can never stop working at it, because each child and young person must always be safe, loved and cherished in the Church.  We are encouraged in this resolve by the words of Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops of the United States during his Apostolic Visit in 2008: “It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged. “

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
March 22, 2011

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
John Barbieri
7 years 1 month ago
Q: Who are the bishops kidding?
A: Anyone who they can!
Another zero from, and for, the bishops. 
JAN LARSON REV
7 years 1 month ago
Lots of familiar huffing and puffing, even some talk about about restoring trust, but nothing about bishops who knowingly assigned dangerous clergy. The bank robbers are punished, but the getaway drivers are unaccountable. 
ed gleason
7 years 1 month ago
Please note the word "PHILLY" was redacted from the  statement.
Winifred Holloway
7 years 1 month ago
If the bishops are serious about constructive criticism, they need only peruse the Catholic blogosphere.  One small gesture on the part of the bishops would be to agree that every church in every diocese remember the survivors of clergy abuse in the Prayers of the Faithful every weekend.  Additionally, included in those petitions would be a plea for forgiveness for the callousness and cluelessness of the hierarchy.  There may be churches doing this already, but I don't know of any.  The profound wish of church authorities appears to be that if no one mentions sexual abuse, all this talk about it will go away and everyone will forget.  This is human and understandable, but it hasn't happened yet.  Not going to happen.  That elephant just keeps getting bigger.
Molly Roach
7 years 1 month ago
These men calling themselves bishops have cashed out their moral authority as if it were a credit card they overspent.  No moral authority, no leadership.  Period.
Jack Barry
7 years 1 month ago
As is the custom, no attention is paid to the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops responsible for enabling, covering up, and re-locating to fresh hunting grounds abusive priests.    
Abp. Dolan promises bishops' continuing attention, priority, and veneration of a paper written in 2002, in the effectiveness of which the bishops now renew their confidence.   The executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, who is responsible for auditing mechanisms and preparation of annual reports of US diocese compliance, told CNS  ''We have a good charter and a good audit, but….''.  (www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1101036.htm)   She was commenting on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which has always  participated in the voluntary USCCB audit and was listed as compliant with the charter in 2009.  (usccb.org/ocyp/)   Given the effectiveness of the charter in influencing several cardinals and various lesser officials since 2002, Abp. Dolan's reassurance does little for the breaches of trust members of the USCCB have created.  
 
David Pasinski
7 years 1 month ago
I agree with most bloggers that this remark is a ho-hum, but it is significant because it is only that. Archbishop Dolan has nothing to say and/or represents a hierarchy with nothing more to say and who will say nothing about a member. This is the same with all all closed hierarchically oriented socieites. In our city, we have struggled with a Civilian Review Board for police because no police will testify about another. The one who did spoke of quiet reprisals. It is the same with the bishops.  When ONE comes out and says something clearly and simply, like "I was disappointed and disheartened with the situation in Philadelphia and the Cardinal's response to it," then some change will be possible. But I do not hold my breath.
Jim McCrea
7 years 1 month ago
For how much longer does the hierarchy in this country think that it can continue to mouth platitudes and soporifics that they *think* will placate the sheep and hope that things will be OK? How darned dumb do they really think people are?

Harry Bridges once said: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory over forgetting.”

Maybe these (a friend coined this word which think is appropriate in these cases) bitchops think that memories are so short that people will forget quickly. And maybe a lot of good loyal pew potatoes will forget because they don’t want to believe the truth of what is continuing to happen. But the story is too commonplace anymore. There is too much evidence to be overlooked. And by evidence I mean the complicity of silence, cover-up, lies, half-truths and general obfuscation that most of us have come to believe is the general response of the hierarchy to this ongoing, mind-numbing saga of case after case of child abuse by those from whom we never thought would be guilty. But they ARE, Blanche, they are. And so are these bitchops who continue to fight the wrong battles.

Until they accept that “the truth of a thing is the *feel* of it, not the *think* of it (Stanley Kubrick,” they will continue to lose more and more credibility because they continue to display an ever-decreasing sense of integrity.

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