RNS photo by Jack Jenkins.

November 11, 2018. This weekend, the Washington Post reported on several proposals from the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to curb the child sex abuse and cover-up scandal that has gained prominence in international press.

The bishops’ early proposals make no mention of compliance with the October 9th letter from the Department of Justice mandating that all documents related to clergy sex abuse by every American bishop must be “preserved in their current format and condition” by dioceses. Evidence shows that some bishops have shredded criminal evidence of abuse in the past, including several who will be attending the conference. Last week, survivors wrote to U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, demanding her intervention with Pope Francis urging him to order the bishops to comply with the DOJ directive.

Under siege by Catholics and the public, bishops are clearly alarmed that outside investigations will expose the magnitude of the clergy abuse problem in the Catholic church, as has been done in several countries including Australia, Ireland, and Germany.

One hundred thirty U.S. bishops attending the conference this week in Baltimore, including President of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, are known to have covered up child sex crimes, over one third of the entire senior management of the U.S. Catholic Church.  The USCCB is a corporation constituted under U.S. law. If one third of the senior management of any other corporation, headquartered and operated by the head of a foreign state, had been proven to have worked together to cover up criminal behavior against children, one can be quite certain the Department of Justice and the Attorney General would be investigating and prosecuting under federal racketeering laws.

Bishops will be composing a new set of directives to manage allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. These directives include a third-party reporting system that is ultimately managed by church leadership. Bishops are instructed to report any allegations made against themselves or other bishops to the Papal Nuncio, the Vatican Ambassador to the United States, rather than to U.S. law enforcement. If the bishops are going to have abusive bishops reported to an outside state government, survivors question why reports are not also going to the U.S. government, the country in which the crimes occurred.

The bishops will be proposing an investigation hotline managed by an outside vendor. This vendor would be responsible for determining whether or not callers should be referred to law enforcement. Why is a hired vendor needed at all? Local law enforcement is the outside vendor who would be better versed in the laws related to criminal and civil statutes of limitation in their respective states.

This and other proposals give survivors of clergy sex abuse and their allies very little faith in the bishops’ intent to implement a widespread, transparent, and sincere effort to reform the way in which the Catholic church responds to allegations of sexual abuse against it priests, bishops, and clergy members. Until the USCCB is willing to relinquish control of involvement in the investigations and demand the resignation of the 130 bishops, including Cardinal DiNardo, who are responsible for the cover-up of child sex crimes, their motives for reform are illegitimate in the eyes of survivors.

Peter Isely
US Spokesperson, Ending Clergy Abuse

Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) is a worldwide organization of survivors and human rights activists whose mission it is to compel the Roman Catholic Church to end clergy abuse, especially child sexual abuse, in order to protect children and to seek justice for victims. ECA demands the end of the Church’s structural mechanism that allows abuse. ECA assembly members represent over 18 countries and 4 continents. https://www.ecaglobal.org@ENDCLERGYABUSE –contactus@ecaglobal.org