Baltimore, Md., Jun 12, 2019 / 16:04 pm
The US bishops voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to authorize a national third-party system for victims confidentially to report cases of abuse by bishops in violation of Vos estis lux mundi.
“I think it’s obvious to me, and hopefully, I think, to all of us, that victim-survivors are a priority to all of us,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, during deliberations June 12 on the reporting system at the bishops’ Spring General Assembly in Baltimore, Md.
“When that situation happens,” he said to the bishops of cases of reported abuse, “I think that every single one of us is going to be very attentive to the needs and healing process of victim-survivors. So I think this system will help us to precisely make sure that anyone who suffers abuse is going to be taken care of.”
The bishops met for the second day of their annual spring meeting Wednesday, during which they voted to authorize the third-party reporting system, in addition to approving a set of proposed strategic priorities for their upcoming 2021-24 Strategic Plan.
The priorities, the fruit of consultations with the body of bishops, five of their standing committees, and their National Advisory Committee, help determine where the bishops will choose to focus the most time and resources in that timeframe.
The proposed priorities, which passed by a vote of 213 to 8, with four abstentions, were: “Evangelization: Form a joyful band of missionary disciples”; “Life and dignity of the human person: Serve the common good as the leaven in a free society”; “Protect and heal God’s children: Restore integrity, foster virtue”; “Vocations: Equip all Christ’s disciples for mission.”
The reporting system that the bishops approved will feature options for victims to report abuse by phone or online.
In September 2018, the bishops’ Executive Committee proposed a third-party reporting mechanism, but after the publication of Vos estis lux mundi, the motu proprio of Pope Francis in response to the recent crisis of clergy sexual abuse, the bishops also voted to authorize updates to the proposed reporting system to comply with the new document. The updates are set to be approved by the administrative committee in meetings this fall.