Experts question whether US bishops really need a new code of conduct


December 3, 2018

By Elise Harris

In the effort to tackle clerical sexual abuse, one step slotted for adoption by the U.S. bishops in their fall meeting was a new code of conduct for bishops, which would specifically address the issue of accountability not just for the crime but the cover-up.

Yet some experts dispute the need for a new code, saying the guidelines written out for all clergy in the 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People are valid for bishops too, if they are applied.

As the Baltimore meeting opened, the bishops were told by the Vatican to hold off on taking any action until after Pope Francis’s Feb. 21-24 summit on the abuse crisis with the heads of all bishops’ conferences, giving them time to take a new look on whether they actually need such a code.

Part of the reason the Vatican put on the brakes is reportedly due to several issues with canon law, with some critics feeling that the proposed new code was overly generic, leaving the specifics of what bishops would be accountable for unclear.

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