Sex Abuse Changes Not Forthcoming from Bishops

The United States Catholic bishops have concluded their summer session in Bellevue Washington by upholding their own Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a document that’s supposed to protect minors from priests who sexually abuse them. While some minor revisions were approved, the Charter remains essentially the same as it did prior to the bishops’ meeting.
This has left most child abuse advocates angry and even more disillusioned with the bishops-if that’s possible. It doesn’t help when the bishop in charge of the task announces, “The charter has served the church well.” In making that statement, Bishop Blaise Cupich seems to ignore what happened with the grand jury in Philadelphia, the pornography and sex abuse scandal involving the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and their own audit that, according to Whispers in the Loggia’s own Rocco Palmo, “found over a quarter of the nation’s 197 dioceses, their identities undisclosed, were sent warnings after the USCCB’s designated auditors found the 55 local churches lacking in their enforcement of one or another aspect of the Dallas protocols. (Despite the “management letters,” the auditors found every diocese surveyed — Philadelphia, Kansas City and Gallup included — in compliance with the Charter for 2010.)
In other words, the Charter clearly hasn’t “served the Church well.” In the last few months there have been three glaring instances in which the Charter or its implementation failed miserably. This isn’t my assessment, Rocco Palmo, an influential blogger and faithful Catholic writing from Philadelphia came to the same conclusions.
Essentially, the Charter fails not because of its content. It fails because those charged with implementing it may pick and choose how it is implemented. Some bishops, notably Fabian Bruskewitz of Nebraska, has chosen to flaunt the document and nothing can or will be done.
The bishops of the United States failed children, their flock, and themselves in not having the moral courage to stand up and admit their efforts have failed. Of course, such courage would have compelled them to turn over their efforts to an independent civil authority to enforce child protection laws. Some bishops complained that they don’t have the authority to force their fellow bishops to do the right thing. They are right. But, they are bishops. They are their community’s moral leaders. They should have made the difficult decision to change that. Then and only then could they have left the Bellevue Hilton with their heads held high and not with their miters between their legs.