Archbishop Cupich Welcomes Move By Pope Francis To Hold Bishops Accountable In Abuse Scandal

By Jay Levine
CBS Chicago
June 10, 2015

[with video]

(CBS) — Pope Francis ordered a Vatican tribunal to deal with bishops who failed to protect children in a move to fill what some have called a gap in the church’s fight against sex abuse by priests.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports it’s a major step by a no-nonsense Pope, extending the zero tolerance, one strike you’re out policy toward predator priests, to those who’ve enabled them: bishops allowed to retire or step aside without formal sanctions.

“No bishop or vicar of priests or cardinal has ever been disciplined for covering up sex abuse of victims and that’s a shame,” said attorney Marc Pearlman.

Files released by the Chicago Archdiocese last year showed some auxiliary bishops had moved offenders from parish to parish, hoping treatment or a change of venue would stop them.

Several months later, the victims group SNAP took its fight to the World Court.

“What we want to see is the Vatican punish the bishops who cover up the sex crimes,” said SNAP founder Barbara Blaine.

Today, Pope Francis established a Vatican tribunal “…for bishops covering up or failing to prevent misconduct,” something only a Pope could have done.

“The Pope himself is the one who appoints bishops and he is the one who actually disciplines and maintains and deals with these issues,” said Bishop Christopher Coyne.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, who is in St. Louis attending his first Bishops Conference representing Chicago, called it an important development.

“I welcome this development,” he said. “I haven’t seen the document that gives the framework for it, but I welcome the step.”

Cupich had signaled his priority by celebrating his first parish mass in Chicago at St. Agatha’s on the West Side, where children were abused by Father Dan McCormack after warning signs were missed by higher-ups.

“We are hoping that he is going to create a new era in the archdiocese where protecting children and preventing abuse is the priority,” Blaine said.

Hopeful then, Blaine now says it’s hard to believe church officials judging other church officials is really progress. But other victims say it’s clear the Pope “is listening to us.” But just who will be judged by the new tribunal and how far back it might go, isn’t yet clear as Archbishop Cupich told Levine, it’s difficult to read the past through a 2015 lens.


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