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(RNS) — In response to recent accusations of episcopal misconduct, the U.S. Catholic bishops have adopted a process for reporting and investigating allegations of sexual misconduct and coverup by bishops.
The directives adopted overwhelmingly by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their meeting this week in Baltimore, Md., implement the papal apostolic letter “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), issued after the summit on clergy sexual abuse convened by the pope in Rome in February.
Bishops - Commitment - Dallas - Charter - Protection
The bishops also voted to affirm their commitment to be covered by the 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which many people complained applied only to priests and not bishops.
Another document laid out the power that a diocesan bishop has for dealing with a retired bishop living in his diocese if he was involved in misconduct. For example, the diocesan bishop can refuse to let him do priestly work in the diocese.
Critics - System - Bishops - Bishops - Bishops
Critics have questioned the new system because it involves bishops investigating bishops, but the bishops have promised to involve lay experts in the process, just as they already involve the laity in the process of investigating priests.
“Lay involvement should be mandatory to make darn sure that we bishops do not harm the church in the way bishops have harmed the church, especially what we have become aware of this past year,” said Bishop Shawn McKnight, bishop of Jefferson City, Mo.
Bishop - Robert - Deeley - Maine - Chair
Bishop Robert Deeley of Maine, chair of the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs, responded that the bishops’ conference could not mandate lay involvement but could strongly encourage it.
In response to a question from Jack M. Jenkins of Religion News Service, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark noted that at a meeting of archbishops this week the question was asked, “Does anyone here believe that you can do...
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