Baltimore, Md., Jun 13, 2019 / 09:15 am
The U.S. bishops’ conference voted Thursday to approve proposals intended to respond to recent scandals involving sexual abuse, coercion, and cover-up on the part of bishops, most notably former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield.
The bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their spring General Assembly, voted overwhelmingly in favor of three measures aimed at building processes to address episcopal misconduct or neglect, and the ongoing crisis of credibility widely perceived to overshadow ongoing work to eliminate sexual abuse from the Church.
The assembly approved protocol explaining the powers of a diocesan bishop to curtail the public ministry of a retired bishop in his former diocese by a margin of 212-4.
They also approved a set of directives applying in the U.S. the new universal norms for investigating allegations against bishops promulgated by Pope Francis in Vos estis lux mundi. After initial discussion earlier this week, they were presented to bishops June 13 with an explicit exhortation for metropolitan bishops to appoint “on a stable basis, even by means of an ecclesiastical office, a qualified lay person” to receive allegations against bishops and work with the metropolitan in any subsequent investigation.