Earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to on several proposals to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual abuse of children or vulnerable persons, sexual misconduct, or the intentional mishandling of such cases. They also specifically committed to involving and utilizing lay professional experts and established a new, independent mechanism for the reporting of such cases.
The new system commits to the involvement of lay professionals, informs the person asserting an allegation of their rights, establishes a notification process for conflicts of interest, and ensures claims won’t result in prejudice, retaliation, or discrimination.
The new system builds on The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more commonly known as the Dallas Charter, which is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
This year’s review resulted in the new system, in which Bishops agreed that third-party, independent oversight is crucial in successfully uncovering, publicizing and punishing bishop misconduct.
Click here for more information on this new process.