U.S. bishops strike out with Francis, will be no papal-backed investigation here of abuse, covering up and Vigano claims

So they are striking out with an ambitious program of their own.

  1. the establishment of a third-party reporting system that would receive confidential complaints about sexual misconduct by bishops, and report those complaints to ecclesiastical and/or civil authorities, as appropriate;
  2. a project to develop proposals for canonical restrictions on bishops who resign because of complaints involving sexual misconduct;
  3. another project to develop a code of conduct for bishops regarding sexual misconduct and negligence in responding to complaints; and
  4. support for a full investigation, supported by lay experts in law enforcement and social services, into the charges lodged against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the responses to those charges.

They aim to put teeth in it.

Pope’s refusal (or ignoring their request) foreclosed something else with even more teeth, Vatican clout in the matter.

Such an investigation, backed by papal authority, could require bishops’ cooperation and the release of relevant Vatican documents, and would therefore greatly increase the likelihood that the charges made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano would be either proven or disproven conclusively.

Ideal opportunity for the pope to defend against what he apparently considers a calumny, though he has never out-and-out denied Vigano’s allegations.

The bishops say these steps are “only a beginning.” Their statement

calls upon all bishops to make a “deep examination of conscience,” and to join in prayer and penance. “We cannot content ourselves that our response to sexual assault within the Church has been sufficient,” the bishops say.

There’s hope in this. They are promising something that would be very good.

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