Baltimore, Md., Jun 10, 2019 / 06:33 am
The U.S. bishops' conference will convene in Baltimore this week, to discuss the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis, and to conduct the ongoing regular business of the organization. The meeting begins June 11.
The bishops are expected to debate and vote on a set of implementation guidelines for Pope Francis' Vos estis lux mundi, a May document that establishes a process for investigations of sexual misconduct or negligence in office on the part of bishops. The process entrusts to the "metropolitan" - the archbishop in each ecclesiastical 'province' - the task of investigating allegations made against bishops, and calls for both the involvement of lay experts and the establishment of third-party reporting mechanisms and other whistleblower protections.
The USCCB's implementation guidelines do not deviate dramatically from the norms established by Pope Francis, leaving most details of the process to metropolitans. While the document makes no direct reference to lay review boards, sources close to the USCCB have told CNA that bishops are expected to debate the degree to which their guidelines should call for the use of such boards during investigative processes.
The bishops are also expected to vote on a document of episcopal standards - a kind of non-binding episcopal code of conduct - and on a set of guidelines for how they should treat bishops who have been removed from office because of misconduct or negligence.