The announcement of the retreat comes as the American bishops prepare to meet in Baltimore in November for the general assembly of the US bishops' conference. That meeting is widely expected to focus on how the Church can respond to the fallout of the scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the growing number of investigations into allegations of clerical sexual abuse in different states.
Authorities in 14 different states, including the District of Columbia, have either announced or already begun investigations into the abuse of minors. Federal authorities in Pennsylvania have also opened an investigation into the dioceses of that state.
In September, the USCCB Administrative Committee announced a series of policies aimed at both addressing the sexual abuse crisis and increasing accountability and transparency in how bishops dealt with allegations, including against themselves. These included a proposed third-party reporting mechanism for accusations, a code of conduct for bishops, and new protocols for bishops who either resign or are removed from office following abuse allegations.