Abuse crisis continued to demand US bishops’ attention, action in 2019

Catholic News Service

Dec 30, 2019

The clergy sexual abuse crisis continued to command a large amount of attention and action from the U.S. bishops throughout 2019.

The year was headlined by actions during the bishops’ spring general assembly, during which they approved a plan to implement Pope Francis’ motu proprio on addressing abuse.

The pope issued his document, Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You are the light of the world”), in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.

The motu proprio was one of the measures that came out of a February Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse attended by the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences.

The U.S. bishops’ implementation plan passed 281-1 with two abstentions.

Vos Estis Lux Mundi established procedures for reporting allegations of sexual abuse of minors or of vulnerable person by clerics, including bishops, or members of religious orders. The document also holds church leaders accountable for actions or omissions relating to the handling of abuse reports.

In line with the plan, the bishops in June approved a third-party reporting system to field sexual misconduct allegations against bishops. Such a system could be in place by the end of February, Anthony Picarello, associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported during the bishops’ fall general assembly in November.

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