Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018
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US Bishops to Discuss the Implementation of a Code of Conduct in Response to Sexual Abuse Scandals

A Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican last week. (Tiziana Fabi / AFP) After months of protests by American Catholics this year, demanding that bishops – the highest Catholic figures in the United States – be held responsible for decades of child abuse by children. priests, the bishops will meet in person for the first time for a calculation of several days on how to resolve the crisis. In a very unusual move, the bishops will set aside almost the rest of their agenda for the annual meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops next week to focus solely on rectifying their policy on # 39; abuse. Leaders from all 196 archdioceses and dioceses in the United States are invited to attend the Baltimore event. Many bishops and lay leaders hope that they will come out of the meeting with new procedures in place, including a secular commission to investigate bishops' abuses, a new code of conduct and a plan for the bishops removed from office. "When we come out of the meeting and we will be able to communicate what will be different in the future, I hope that all those who have asked for such concrete measures will recognize: the bishops have heard us", said Bishop Michael Burbidge, bishop heads the diocese of Arlington Virginia. "We hear what you said. And we share those concerns. And we do something about it. It's a lot to do in one meeting. But before the start of the work, they will devote almost a day of the three-day session to Baltimore to prayer. "All prayer. No item on the agenda. It's just a day of prayer from morning till night. I think this shows the importance of recognizing that we need divine assistance here, "Burbidge said. Bishops have been at the center of Catholic anger this summer and this fall, starting with the release of a report from a major grand jury in Pennsylvania in August. The report, which investigated seven decades of church history and discovered that more than 300 priests in the state had abused more than 1,000 children, drew attention to the conduct of bishops, who sometimes displaced an insulting priest. in another parish or let him go back to his parish. rather than remove it or report it to the police. In Pennsylvania, the names of bishops were removed from the buildings and rooms that had once honored them. Many of these bishops are dead or retired, but not all. The current bishop of Pittsburgh, David Zubik, has been involved in church administration since the late 1980s and has had to face calls for his resignation since the grand jury report.[[[[The Diocese of Pennsylvania has been suppressing the name of every bishop since 1947, as they have failed to eradicate child abuse.]Donald Wuerl, whose deeds during his 18 years as Bishop of Pittsburgh were closely examined in the Grand Jury Report, was the Archbishop of Washington when the report was released. After months of furious pressure from parishioners and Catholics deeply involved in the district and Maryland, Wuerl retired because his behavior was condemned. (He remains acting administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington until Pope Francis chooses his successor.) Across the country, more than a dozen or so states and a US federal attorney have followed the example of Pennsylvania since August and opened criminal or civil investigations on Catholics. Church, concerned Catholics focused their attention on the conduct of the bishops. Many called for increased participation of lay leaders – people who are not ordained by the clergy but parishioners in the benches – to monitor the conduct of the bishops. Some have raised the issue of the massive resignation of some of the oldest bishops, who led the church long before the dioceses of the United States reformed their policy of dealing with child abuse, in the light of the presentation. of 2002 of invasive crimes by the Boston Globe. In response to these calls for reform, the bishops will review three new policies at their meeting in Baltimore. First, they will discuss the possibility of creating a new lay commission to investigate complaints against bishops. The US bishops have already committed to using an external provider to manage a hotline allowing bishops to report abuse or mishandling of a case of abuse. This provider is still being selected, but once the church has signed a contract, the operator of the hotline will be asked to refer the complaints to law enforcement, if any, according to the spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, James Rogers. If the bishops create this secular commission, the hotline could also send reports to the commission, which would make recommendations to discipline the bishops, if any, with the Vatican ambassador to the United States, who would dismiss the complaints. to the bishops' supervisors in Rome. . Second, the bishops will consider a project that would create a new code of conduct for bishops, who currently have no written professional ethics framework. According to the language agreed by the bishops during a process of amendments and two day debates, the new norms of conduct could cover sex with adults and other issues. ;abuse of power. This proposal is likely to provoke the most controversy among the bishops. "I think the bishops' code of conduct is useless to me. We have a code of conduct called the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's what we call living in a holy and good life, "said Bishop Christopher Coyne, Bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, which is the life to which we are called to live as bishops, that would be a sufficient code of conduct. " After a moment of thought Coyne changed his point of view: "I wish it was not necessary, but it is, given what has happened in the past and what is happening currently, that's the case. " But while some bishops enter the meeting with optimism, they want a full vote. Coyne is not sure that all the proposals will survive the debate. It is important that we discuss positively what we have achieved, our protection of children over the last 16 years, and our shame and pain. and the guilt that we collectively need, "he said." I hope we're not in a worse place to go out as we go in … … I'm just trying to reduce expectations people as to what can be accomplished, by entering this meeting, so that we do not have a huge disappointment in the end as to what has been accomplished. "Finally, the participants will discuss what it is Bishops who have already been or will be removed from office due to sexual misconduct or mismanagement of abuse The role of the bishop is designed to last a lifetime, with the promise of 39, total financial support from the church, including income and housing until retirement.At present, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, out of favor, is settling in a convent in an isolated city of Kansas Wuerl's retirement home is still being determined Michael Bransfield, bishop of West Virginia, was removed from office in September on allegations of sexual misconduct and the bishops hope other bishops could be removed from office for similar causes. The bishops could approve a uniform standard for such cases at the meeting, including restrictions on the permission of the former bishops to lead Mass and other services. [Pope Francis meets with U.S. bishops, including leader facing a new cover-up charge himself] Becky Ianni, leader of SNAP, a clergy abuse advocacy group, said she doubted the bishops 'reform efforts, especially since Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the States United States, will lead the forum. DiNardo himself has been accused of improperly manipulating an abusive priest in his Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. "It's a bit hypocritical for him to lead a discussion about what to do with the bishops. Will he come? Ianni said. "I'm concerned about what this tells the victims, namely that we have someone here who is hiding abuse, and we're supposed to believe that he's going to do what's best for the victims. "She will not be satisfied, she said. , just to see a written code of conduct. She wants to see bishops – potentially dozens of them – who have already played a role in concealing forced abuse. The bishops will also vote on a letter condemning racism, which they began writing after the Charlottesville protest in 2017 and which should be the centerpiece of this meeting, if the sexual abuse crisis had not occurred been in the center of summer. But before everything starts, the bishops will pray. Their meeting on Monday will be full of rituals. Mass. Guided prayer and reflection on the painful effects of sexual abuse. Time for confession. A full day of prayer and contemplation may be rare for busy bishops, Rogers said. "We are all very action oriented. It is easy to forget to lead the complex organization of a diocese – all parishes and schools. This invites them out of the church administration and explain why the church is here to begin. ".

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