Cardinal DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has recently announced a comprehensive plan to address what he called the “moral catastrophe” of the current abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in this country. According to Mr. John Allen, writing for the Catholic publication, “Crux”, Cardinal DiNardo clearly acknowledged the failure of episcopal leadership and stated the plan “will involve the laity, lay experts, the clergy and the Vatican” and will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in November, and also will be presented to the Vatican. He indicated that the “substantial involvement of the laity” will be essential to this process.
His plan established three goals. Working with qualified lay people empowered to act, the first goal is to undertake a full investigation into questions surrounding former Cardinal McCarrick to determine how he could rise to the rank of Cardinal when he had credible allegations against him in the past. The second goal is the opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops. The third goal is advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. Cardinal DiNardo stated that these three goals “will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority and substantial leadership by laity.” He also reaffirmed his belief that “Laypeople bring expertise in areas of investigation, law enforcement, psychology, and other relevant disciplines, and their presence reinforces our commitment to the first criterion of independence.” The Vatican will be asked to conduct an apostolic visitation into these questions about former Cardinal McCarrick and will be asked to act in concert with qualified laypeople.
Cardinal DiNardo also addressed the question of the chain of authority in the Catholic Church. He noted, “Because only the pope has authority to discipline or remove bishops, we will assure that our measures will both respect that authority and protect the vulnerable from the abuse of ecclesial power.”
In light of recent revelations about former Cardinal McCarrick, and in view of the recent allegations of abuse and cover-up by priests and bishops in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, Cardinal DiNardo
stated, “We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past.” He also indicated, “The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.”
We pray that this plan of Cardinal DiNardo will be quickly implemented and that this necessary but painful period of healing in the Catholic Church will continue in earnest.
Steps to Report Suspected Child Abuse.
(Mandatory – by law – when youth is under 18 years of age.)
Your role is only to report. There is to be no investigation by you or anyone else at the parish, mission, school, or diocesan level.
1. Inform the person in charge of the facility, pastor or principle, of the allegation. Letting the pastor/principal know about the allegation does NOT take away the mandatory reporter’s responsibility to notify the Division of Family and Children Service (DFCS).
2. You MUST notify the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) within 24 hours. Call 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4453). Be prepared to provide the child’s name, address, age, nature of abuse, suspected perpetrator and relationship with the child.
3. Follow up with a letter to DFCS. (DFCS letter template and list of offices are provided at archatl.com/offices/child-and-youth-protection/reporting-abuse/.
4. Communicate the incident to the Atlanta Archdiocese Office of Child and Youth Protection (OCYP) 24-Hour Abuse Reporting Hotline at 1-888-437-0764 if the abuse involves church personnel (clergy, religious, deacon, employee or volunteer).