Bishops approve revisions to Dallas Charter

The changes received overwhelming approval, but not everyone  is completely on board, according to CNS:

Introducing the document to the bishops June 15, Bishop Cupich said the experiences of the past nine years have shown that “the charter works.”

“The charter has served the church well,” he said. “It is a helpful tool as we keep our pledge to protect children, promote healing and rebuild trust.”

The proposed revisions reflect changes in church law since the last revision in 2005, bringing it in line with recent Vatican instructions in response to the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by priests. These include mentioning child pornography as a crime against church law and defining the abuse of someone who “habitually lacks reason,” such as a person with mental retardation, as the equivalent of child abuse.

They also outline procedures to follow if a bishop is accused of having sexually abused a child and another bishop becomes aware of it.

Bishop Cupich said the recent Vatican documents related to sex abuse have “reinforced the commitment we bishops made in 2002.”

“They are also a source of encouragement that the decisions we made are making a positive impact on the universal church,” he added.

There was little debate on the proposed revisions before the vote. But not every bishop is on board with the charter’s provisions, as evidenced by the 28 amendments proposed by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., and rejected by the committee.

Most of the amendments suggested by Bishop Bruskewitz were aimed at weakening the charter’s wording because, the bishop said in a rationale included with the amendments, “The USCCB bureaucracy cannot bind bishops to obey the charter.”

“It is fundamentally dishonest to tell the faithful and the general public that the USCCB has any authority whatsoever to bind dioceses/eparchies to obey the charter,” Bishop Bruskewitz wrote. “The more commitments, the more grounds for lawsuits.”

Retired Archbishop Francis T. Hurley of Anchorage, Alaska, also raised questions June 16 about the “zero tolerance” policy outlined in the charter, which requires the permanent removal of any priest who admits or is found to have abused a child.

The archbishop said a zero-tolerance policy is contrary to the Catholic principles of reconciliation and forgiveness, treating every case “as if everyone is the same type of person, and they are not.”

He said Catholic priests and laypeople are experiencing “anger at the bishops at the way we have failed to handle this situation, and we need to start handling it.”

Bishop Cupich said the charter does not affect the spiritual value of reconciliation, but “the sacrament of reconciliation does not lift the penalty against crimes.”

Responding further at the news conference to Archbishop Hurley’s remarks, Bishop Cupich said the zero-tolerance policy is “not just effective, but necessary” for a variety of reasons.

“We bishops learned the hard way, by following the advice of the world of psychology,” that abusers cannot be allowed to return to ministry, he said. “It was bad advice, and children were put in harm’s way,” he added. “We just cannot take that chance.”

Read more, along with additional details, here.

Comments

  1. Thanks for nothing, Archbishop Hurley. And thanks for everything, Bishop Cupich.

  2. diakonos09 says:

    Is there a zero tolerance policy with removal from ministry for bishops who have information and “forget” to pass it on in a timely manner? Or for bishops who “play chess” with problemed priests? Was anything done (or in process of doing) to work on recomciliation between the Ordinary and the clergy of his diocese who have felt bereft of a spiritual father for several years now and see the bishop as the guy who is out to cover his butt at their expense? (I have seen this quiet destruction in my diocese for the sake of the Dollar and the Lawyer).

  3. naturgesetz says:

    I think it is important to realize that the actual act of abusing a child is worse than neglecting to handle information properly. The punishment for the former must, in justice, be more severe that for the latter.

  4. The problem was the abusers (and their enablers) were overwhelmingly members of the clergy. The response to this is to have all lay volunteers in the parishes, who are generally parents, take an multi-hour instructional video on why child abuse is bad and how to prevent it. This includes those of us in the law enforcement community that actually investigate this depravity. Talk about preaching to the choir!

    This is insanity.

  5. Unapologetic Catholic says:

    “The more commitments, the more grounds for lawsuits.”

    Yeah, that’s my firs thoght, too, “How do we avoid lawsuits.”

    Thr Chater works when it’s followed. The pormbel is the bnishops who ingore the charter.

    “The USCCB bureaucracy cannot bind bishops to obey the charter.”

    OK, we’ll see if the local district attorneys can prod the miscreants into doing so–at least in this world. As to the next world…I would not be worring about the USCCB, there are millstones awaiting.

  6. “The response to this is to have all lay volunteers in the parishes, who are generally parents, take an multi-hour instructional video on why child abuse is bad and how to prevent it.”

    Since far more child abuse is inflicted by parents not clergy, the choir of parents need to be preached to.

  7. pagansister says:

    More words—more action? We will see.

  8. Thank you Bishop Cupich:
    Bishop Cupich said the charter does not affect the spiritual value of reconciliation, but “the sacrament of reconciliation does not lift the penalty against crimes.”

    This is precisely the attitude the bishops need to take. There needs to be recognition that priests who are capable of child abuse are no longer qualified to be priests (if indeed they ever were), even if kept away from children in the future. They are not above the law and should not be protected from the canonical or legal consequences of criminal behavior.

    That is entirely separate from the issue of repentance and reconciliation with God which should never be denied.

  9. I hope the USCCB doesn’t wait 2 years to better define the authority of the diocesan review boards. Philly and KC have overwhelmingly demonstrated that bishops need clearer criteria defining which cases must be bought to the attention of the boards and not handled only by the vicars and bishops.

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