U.S. Bishops Vote in Favor of Three Additional Bishop Accountability Measures During Baltimore General Assembly – June 13, 2019
U.S. Catholic Bishops approved three additional measures to address abuse and bishop accountability during their annual Spring General Assembly in Baltimore. The measures expand upon the Pope Francis’s Motu proprio and the U.S. Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The reforms are designed to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual misconduct against minors and vulnerable adults…
USCCB unveils new website ahead of bishops meeting June 11-14 – June 7, 2019
The USCCB launched a new website (usccbprevention.org) highlighting the importance of prevention, protection and accountability in response to the ongoing effort to eradicate clergy sexual abuse. As the American bishops prepare to meet in Baltimore for their Spring General Assembly next week, this new site serves as a resource detailing the steps the American bishops are taking to confront this crisis. On the site, Readers can browse through the layers of the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its progress, as well as the new reforms set to be discussed in Baltimore. There are also numerous readily available resources to address any instance of clergy sexual abuse…
Bishops Issues Statement at Close of Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church – February 24, 2019
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
“These have been challenging, fruitful days. The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.
How then to bind the wounds? Intensify the Dallas Charter. Pope Francis, whom I want to thank for this assembly, called us to ‘concrete and effective measures.’ A range of presenters from cardinals to other bishops to religious sisters to lay women spoke about a code of conduct for bishops, the need to establish specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanisms, and the essential role transparency must play in the healing process…
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President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Issues Statement on Theodore McCarrick in Response to Judgement by the Holy See – February 16, 2019
“The Holy See’s announcement regarding Theodore McCarrick is a clear signal that abuse will not be tolerated. No bishop, no matter how influential, is above the law of the Church. For all those McCarrick abused, I pray this judgement will be one small step, among many, toward healing. For us bishops, it strengthens our resolve to hold ourselves accountable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to Pope Francis for the determined way he has led the Church’s response…
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U.S. Bishops Receive Letter from Pope Francis As They Gather for Spiritual Retreat – January 3, 2019
To the Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
During my meeting on 13 September last with the officers of your Conference of Bishops, I suggested that together you make a retreat, a time of seclusion, prayer and discernment, as a necessary step toward responding in the spirit of the Gospel to the crisis of credibility that you are experiencing as a Church. We see this in the Gospel: at critical moments in his mission, the Lord withdrew and spent the whole night in prayer, inviting his disciples to do the same. (cf. Mk 14:38) We know that, given the seriousness of the situation, no response or approach seems adequate: nonetheless, we as pastors must have the ability, and above all the wisdom, to speak a word born of heartfelt, prayerful and collective listening to the Word of God and to the pain of our people. A word born of the prayer of shepherds who, like Moses, fight and intercede for their people (cf. Ex 32:30-32)
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Cardinal Daniel DiNardo Offers Message to Holy Father on Behalf of U.S. Bishops – January 3, 2019
Most Holy Father,
As the bishops of the United States gather today in prayer, we humbly ask Your Holiness to pray for us that we may draw closer to one another and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this closeness, we seek to find the wisdom and strength necessary to meet the great challenges ahead. We carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church. Yet, we find ourselves grateful for the reminder that the future does not rest with any of us alone, but rather belongs to God. Hope is to be found in Christ. In Him, hope becomes unshakable.
Holy Father, we also draw near to you in our prayer and ministry. Your witness to those suffering around the world strengthens us. May our days together reflect the communion of the Universal Church.
U.S. Bishops Gather for Seven Days of Prayer and Reflection at Invitation of Pope Francis – December 21, 2018
“I am grateful to the Holy Father for calling the bishops and me to step back and enter into this focused time of listening to God as we respond to the intense matters before us in the weeks and months ahead. I also humbly ask the laity, our priests and religious for your prayers for my brother bishops and me as we join in solidarity to seek wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Pray also for the survivors of sexual abuse that their suffering may serve to strengthen us all for the hard task of rooting out a terrible evil from our Church and our society so that such suffering is never multiplied.”
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President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Makes Statement at Close of Public Sessions; Fall General Assembly, Baltimore Nov. 12-14 – November 14, 2018
Brothers, I opened the meeting expressing some disappointment. I end it with hope.
My hope is first of all grounded in Christ, who desires that the Church be purified and that our efforts bear fruit.
In late summer on your behalf, I expressed our renewed fraternal affection for our Holy Father. In September the Administrative Committee expressed for all of us our “love, obedience and loyalty” for Pope Francis. Now together with you today, gathered in Baltimore in Plenary Assembly, we the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pledge to His Holiness our loyalty and devotion in these difficult days. I am sure that, under the leadership of Pope Francis, the conversation that the global Church will have in February will help us eradicate the evil of sexual abuse from our Church. It will make our local efforts more global and the global perspective will help us here…
National Review Board Urges Need to Broaden the Scope of the Charter to Include Bishops; Lay Panel Urges Reform to Improve Transparency and Enhance Accountability – November 13, 2018
Special Report of the National Review Board to the Body of Bishops on the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Church
Good morning your Eminences and your Excellencies.
For many years, you, along with the clergy, religious, and laity of your dioceses, have toiled to
extinguish the fires of the sexual abuse crisis. Those efforts have not been in vain. Thanks to
your commitment to prevent abuse and support survivors, dioceses today are not the same ones
in which occurred the horrific abuses detailed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. The efforts
of your dioceses, as well as the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and
Young People, have successfully addressed many of the problems of the abuse crisis.
Nonetheless, your response to this crisis has been incomplete. Specifically, current events reveal
a continued lack of transparency about past cases of abuse and the way they were handled, as
well as a lack of accountability for bishops….
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Delivers Opening Address at Start of 2018 General Assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 12-14 – November 12, 2018
“Saint Augustine wrote, ‘In order that weakness might become strong, strength became weak.’ My dear brothers, in light of this morning’s news, the nature of my address changes. We remain committed to the specific program of greater episcopal accountability that we will discuss these days. Consultations will take place. Votes will not this week. But we will prepare ourselves to move forward.
Allow me to now address the survivors of abuse directly.
Where I have not been watchful or alert to your needs, wherever I have failed, I am deeply sorry. The command of our Lord and Savior was clear. ‘What I say to you, I say to all: watch!’ In our weakness, we fell asleep. Now, we must humbly beg God’s strength for the vigil ahead…
U.S. Bishops To Meet Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore; Will Address Abuse Crisis and Action Items; Assembly to be Live Streamed, Live Tweeted, Carried Via Satellite – October 30, 2018
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2018 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 12-14.
The assembly will begin with an address by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the USCCB and also an address by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The body of bishops will then adjourn to an on-site chapel for a full day of spiritual discernment and prayer. This will be followed by a Mass celebrated Monday evening at the site of the assembly.
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U.S. Bishops Will Gather for Seven Days of Prayer and Reflection at Invitation of Pope Francis – October 23, 2018
At the invitation of Pope Francis, the Bishops of the United States will gather for a spiritual retreat set to take place at Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The bishops will gather in prayer and unity for seven days, from January 2-8, as brothers in the Episcopacy.
“The Holy Father has kindly offered the preacher to the Papal Household, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., to serve as the retreat director as we come together to pray on the intense matters before us. For this, I am grateful,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “I am also grateful to Cardinal Blase Cupich for his kind offer to use the campus of Mundelein Seminary as the location for this retreat.”
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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee Statement on Sex Abuse Scandals; Committee Releases Actions to be Taken Within Its Authority – September 19, 2018
Turning to the Lord
“When each of us was ordained as a bishop, we were told:
‘Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God.’
We, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assembled last week in Washington at this time of shame and sorrow. Some bishops, by their actions or their failures to act, have caused great harm to both individuals and the Church as a whole. They have used their authority and power to manipulate and sexually abuse others. They have allowed the fear of scandal to replace genuine concern and care for those who have been victimized by abusers. For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed. Turning to the Lord for strength, we must and will do better…
President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement Following Meeting with Pope Francis – September 13, 2018
Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning in Vatican City, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement regarding the recent moral crisis in the American Catholic Church.
“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States — how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange…
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Statement from the National Review Board Calls for Lay Leadership Amid Sexual Abuse Crisis – August 28, 2018
“While the policies and procedures that have been implemented by the Church since 2002 to address the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy have resulted in a significant decrease of such abuse, the revelations of horrific incidents of abuse in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, along with the abuse perpetrated by Archbishop McCarrick point to a systemic problem within the Church that can no longer be ignored or tolerated by the episcopacy in the United States. The National Review Board has for several years expressed its concern that bishops not become complacent in their response to sexual abuse by the clergy. The recent revelations make it clear that the problem is much deeper. We are saddened, angry, and hurt by what we have learned in the past few weeks. The evil of the crimes that have been perpetrated reaching into the highest levels of the hierarchy will not be stemmed simply by the creation of new committees, policies, or procedures. What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church’s culture, specifically among the bishops themselves. This evil has resulted from a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence that enabled these incidents to occur. Intimidation, fear, and the misuse of authority created an environment that was taken advantage of by clerics, including bishops, causing harm to minors, seminarians, and those most vulnerable. The culture of silence enabled the abuse to go on virtually unchecked. Trust was betrayed for the victims/survivors of the abuse; the entire Body of Christ was betrayed in turn by these crimes and the failure to act…
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops – August 27, 2018
“In communion with the Holy Father, I join the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in taking upon ourselves his exhortation, ‘this open wound [of abuse] challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.’
“On August 1st, I promised that USCCB would exercise the full extent of its authority, and would advocate before those with greater authority, to pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. On August 16th, I called for an Apostolic Visitation, working in concert with a national lay commission granted independent authority, to seek the truth. Yesterday, I convened our Executive Committee once again, and it reaffirmed the call for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement…
President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Response to Pope Francis’s Letter to the People of God – August 22, 2018
“I am grateful to the Holy Father for his Letter to the People of God, responding to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation and other revelations that have surfaced. The very fact that he opens the letter with the words of Saint Paul: ‘If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it’ (1 Cor 12:25), shows that he is writing to all of us as a pastor, a pastor who knows how deeply sin destroys lives. I find these words of the Holy Father particularly helpful: ‘penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.’ These words must provoke action – especially by the bishops. We bishops need to– and we must – practice with all humility such prayer and penance…
President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Announces Effort That Will Involve Laity, Experts, and the Vatican as U.S. Bishops Resolve to Address “Moral Catastrophe” – August 16, 2018
“Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Those sentiments continue and are deepened in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report. Earlier this week, the USCCB Executive Committee met again and established an outline of these necessary changes.
The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity…
President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference and Committee Chairman Response to Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report – August 14, 2018
“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades. We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse. As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.
We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank…
President of U.S. Bishops Conference Issues Statement on Course of Action Responding to Moral Failures on Part of Church Leaders – August 1, 2018
“The accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick reveal a grievous moral failure within the Church. They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me. They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the People of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people’s lives and represent grave moral failures of judgement on the part of Church leaders.
These failures raise serious questions. Why weren’t these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to Church officials? Why wasn’t this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement on Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Resignation from College of Cardinals – July 28, 2018
“I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the Church in the United States.”