Bishops weigh anti-abuse strategy after Tuesday delay set by Vatican

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018

BALTIMORE — Several Roman Catholic bishops on Tuesday urged colleagues at their national meeting to take some sort of action on the clergy sex abuse crisis despite a Vatican order to delay voting on key proposals.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, suggested a nonbinding vote to convey a sense of the bishops’aspirations regarding anti-abuse efforts.

“We are not branch managers of the Vatican,” he said. “Our people are crying out for some action.”

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Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, echoed Paprocki’s call, saying parishioners and priests in his diocese are “very, very angry.”

The three-day assembly opened Monday with a surprise announcement by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Vatican, he said, was ordering the bishops to delay votes on two anti-abuse proposals until after a Vatican-convened global meeting on sex abuse in February.

DiNardo indicated there were two principal reasons for the Vatican order: to ensure that steps taken by the U.S. bishops would be in harmony with steps decided at the February meeting, and to provide more time for vetting aspects of the U.S. proposals that might conflict with church law.

Even without the option of a formal vote this week, the U.S. bishops proceeded with discussion of the two key proposals. One would establish a new code of conduct of individual bishops; the other would create a nine-member special commission, including six lay experts and three members of the clergy, to review complaints against the bishops.

The lay members would include experts in law enforcement, social work and psychology, as well as at least one survivor of clergy abuse, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said.

However, the bishops are under pressure to take additional steps, as stressed in an address to the assembly Tuesday by Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, which the bishops created in 2002 to monitor the church’s efforts to prevent clergy sex abuse.