The Vatican stepped in to prevent a vote at a US bishops’ conference Monday which could have led to the formation of a commission to hold bishops accountable for child sex abuse crimes.
A second action item up for vote at the 2018 US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), held in Baltimore, may have spurred the creation of a code of ethical conduct for bishops.
“At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on the two action items in our docket regarding the abuse crisis,” USCCB President Cdl. Daniel DiNardo said in a surprise announcement.
“We have accepted with disappointment this particular event that took place this morning,” DiNardo said, calling the order “a bump in the road.”
“We have not lessened in any of our resolve for actions,” DiNardo added.
The Vatican’s decision was met with apprehension by reporters, who asked how followers could continue to trust the institution.
“They watch us in action in bearing fruit…You also do look to what’s happened to this issue over the past 17 or 18 years,” DiNardo answered. “Remember, the Dallas Charter is not completed yet because the bishops weren’t always involved in the Dallas Charter,” which sought to tamp down rampant clerical sex abuse.
As highlighted by ChurchMilitant.com, the bishops were instrumental in the Dallas’ Charter’s creation, along with the help of disgraced former Cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick:
In fact, as the authors of the Dallas Charter, the U.S. bishops have been involved in its creation — and specific design — from the very beginning. The document’s chief architect was ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, whose outing as a serial sexual predator in June has rocked the Church to its core. Together with allies among his brother bishops, McCarrick deliberately diluted the Dallas Charter, apparently tailoring the document to exempt bishops in order to protect himself and others like him after decades of abusing seminarians.
The Vatican requested the vote be held after it holds its own global meeting on child sex abuse, set for February 21-24.
Representing the organization Ending Clergy Abuse, Peter Isely called out the USCCB for complying with the Vatican’s decision, which he said amounts to taking orders from a foreign government.
"What they've said today is, we can't do anything unless we get permission from this foreign gov't. To do what? To turn in sex offenders to the police?" – @ENDCLERGYABUSE's Peter Isely on Vatican's request that bishops not vote this week on proposals re: church's sex abuse crisis pic.twitter.com/yojiu1Q1yb
— Stephanie Strasburg (@StephStrasburg) November 12, 2018
“What they’ve said today is, we can’t do anything unless we get permission from this foreign government. To do what? To turn in sex offenders to the police?” Isely told the press Monday. “What do you need to fly over to Rome, to another country, to get permission to assure the American public that this organization is safe?”
While the vote was delayed, another bishop at the conference, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago – “one of the Pope’s closest allies in the United States,” according to CNN – encouraged the USCCB to hold a discussion on the topic and take an informal vote, followed by another vote in March following the Vatican’s own meeting on the subject.
Pope Francis in late September called the deluge of clerical sex crimes, as well as divisions within the church, the work of Satan and asked Catholics to pray every day throughout the month of October.
“(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,” Francis said.