As part of the related abuse scandals to hit the Church in the last 18 months, many dioceses are facing investigations by states' attorneys general into clergy sex abuse. The Pennsylvania grand jury report, released in 2018, revealed more than a thousand allegations of abuse over the span of several decades, and more than a dozen other states - including Vigneron's own state of Michigan - have open investigations.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel launched his investigation into clergy sex abuse in all seven Catholic dioceses in the state last year. In May, Nessel's office announced charges of 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct against five priests in the ongoing investigation.
Vigneron told CNA that he was committed to working with civil authorities to address historic injustices, but that he and other bishops did not know when the investigation might conclude.
"I don't know where the work of the Attorney General in our seven dioceses stands right now," Vigneron told CNA but said he and the Archdiocese of Detroit were being "very cooperative" with state officials.
Vigneron told CNA that although the McCarrick scandal had been painful for the Church in the United States, many past victims of abuse had now come forward, and that is an important part of serving justice and healing in the Church.
"I can account for some of this matter by saying that the investigations that became very prominent led some people to come forward and speak up, and-when in the past they didn't do that," he said.
In past decades, abuse victims were asked by some dioceses to sign confidentiality agreements as part of settlements with Church authorities, something now specifically prohibited by Pope Francis. Vigneron said that it was important that no victim felt intimidated into silence.
"I think the time for confidential agreements is gone," he said.
Vigneron's three-year term as USCCB vice president formally began on Wednesday, at the conclusion of the conference's Fall Assembly in Baltimore.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.