Are Diocesan Review Boards Effective?

Sounds like a loaded question, right? Actually, the answer depends upon the diocese or archdiocese, more specifically, the bishop or the archbishop in charge. After the Dallas Charter was adopted some nine years ago to deal with the priest abuse crisis in this country, each bishop was asked to form an independent review board within their own diocese to ensure priest sex abuse allegations were investigated and handled properly as well as avoid future occurrences. Most of the US bishops have complied and have active review boards. I can think of two who have refused to comply with the audits mandated by the Dallas Charter-Fabian Bruskewitz and Robert Vasa, the newly appointed bishop of Santa Rosa CA.
Yet, there are problems within the archdioceses and dioceses that have review boards. Some prime examples are the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and the Diocese of Gallup. There are others, but these three serve as prime examples of the inherent problems faced by these review boards. They are only as effective as the bishop allows them to be. In the three instances I’ve cited the bishop in charge didn’t bother communicating everything to the board, rendering their opinions and ability to make decisions ineffective.
In the end, the problem lies with the bishops since they are selective in what information they are allowing their own boards to see. This may be an insurmountable problem for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops when they gather to discuss this in June in Seattle. Each bishop acts as a sovereign in his own diocese. No other bishop can tell him what to do with his review board. Now, the Pope can intervene but no one truly believes he has such inclinations. Perhaps some bishops think it’s easier to ask for forgiveness once they’re caught rather than comply with the Dallas Charter. At least, that’s what the bishops in Philadelphia and Kansas City-St. Joseph have done.