"He feels it is important for the Church, and especially for victims, that time isn't wasted reinventing the wheel. The Statement and the Charter could be built upon and improved, and might be useful in that way. But if the bishops decide to go in another direction, that's also an option."
In a separate media interview, given on August 5, Wuerl suggested that the USCCB could form a committee or panel of bishops with the authority to investigate allegations, and even persistent rumors concerning individual bishops, such as those which were reportedly in wide circulation concerning Archbishop McCarrick.
Collins told CNA that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors had already drawn up a set of safeguarding guidelines, approved by the pope, but that it has been left up to bishops' conferences to take notice of the Commission's recommendations.
"The Safeguarding Guidelines template which the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors drew up, and which was approved by the Pope, is on the Commission website" she pointed out, also noting that unlike the Dallas Charter "the Commission's guideline do not exclude bishops - they refer to 'clerics and religious'."
Echoing previous criticisms made about the way the Pontifical Commission's work had been adopted, Collins said that although the guidelines were meant to be a binding standard, they have not yet become normative.
"The original intention was to disseminate the guidelines to all bishops' conferences globally as best practice and to hold all local policies to this standard, instead, they are now simply a resource on the website to take or leave."
When asked what a credible response to the McCarrick scandal might look like, Collins called for a serious commitment to transparency by the Church, both in Rome and in dioceses.
"There must be transparency around every action that is taken in response to a report of any sort of abuse or exploitation. The use of the 'pontifical secret' to restrict the information available to victims in canonical trials should end - this was recommended to the Holy Father by the PCPM last September, but there has been no word as to whether the recommendation has been approved or not."
Collins said that real reform would need to be dramatic, and could include a national body charged with inspecting dioceses.
"Each diocese should open itself to an annual audit by an independent body, with diocesan bishops making all their files available. This is done in Ireland by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and their audits are published."
"The NBSCCI are not completely independent but they are a central office not connected to any one diocese."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
In his Pastoral Reflection, Cardinal Wuerl has said that any review of policy must be more than just canonical and procedural. The cardinal said any revised version must include "an expansive theological and moral perspective" and recognize the need for "fraternal correction" among bishops.
Ed Condon is a canon lawyer and worked as Catholic News Agency's Washington DC editor until December 2020.