Bishop Accountability

Fall River Resources – November 2002

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From USCCB Report: Wednesday
Debate on Accountability
[Text of Remarks by Bishop Sean O’Malley]

By John Bookser Feister (Web site of St. Anthony Messenger)
November 13, 2002

"The crisis exists today because Church leaders dealt with sexual abuse by clergy in a modus operandi that was suggested by a theology of sin and grace, redemption, permanence of the priesthood, but also a great concern about scandal, the bella figura, financial patrimony of the Church. We know now that not enough attention was given to the reporting of crimes, the protection of children and the spiritual and psychological damage done to victims. The Charter and Norms coming out of Dallas seemed very secular to some of us, but I believe they are a corrective to an approach of the past that proved very inadequate. I am happy and grateful that the mixed commission has shown how the Dallas document can be compatible with Canon Law.

"We all share the concerns of the Holy See and our priests against vigilantism. But certainly a secular review board is necessary to have a credible way to judge merits of an allegation. If I were falsely accused, I would want to be exonerated by a civil investigation, or by an independent board. Without such an exoneration, a priest's reputation and the credibility of a bishop's decision will remain seriously compromised. The work of the mixed commission has set the stage for us to be able to assure our priests, who are awaiting anxiously, our people and the American public that we indeed have a national policy that removes all priests, bishops and deacons who have ever abused a child -- a policy which is not just a personal commitment of individual bishops of goodwill, but will be Church law that will apply, not only to the secular clergy but also to the priests in religious orders. This strengthens considerably what we achieved in Dallas. It is most unfortunate that we do not seem to be able to communicate this in the secular media. I hope that our Catholic media will do their best to help correct the false impression being given by the secular press."



Bishop Accountability © 2003