The Bishops of the dioceses of Boston have agreed to make and in fact launched a third party independent system to report abuses by Catholic Bishops. The decision was taken in the wake of Pope Francis’ landmark Vos estis letter which found a nearly unanimous response by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 2019 according to ZENIT news agency.
On May 9, 2019, Pope Francis promulgated a Motu Proprio, entitled Vos estis lux mundi, that identifies substantive measures to respond to the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Church. This includes requiring all dioceses in every country to establish a public, accessible and reliable system for reporting crimes of clergy sexual abuse and any cover-up of abuse by May 31, 2020.
Crimes by Bishops
It also requires the establishment of new procedural norms for investigating crimes by bishops and supreme moderators of religious institutes, including both allegations of sexual abuse and any cover-up by way of actions or omissions intended to conceal information or to interfere with investigations.
Last June, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, approved to establish a third-party national reporting system for allegations or complaints involving bishops in the United States. The system will be designed to receive, via phone or email, confidential information reporting possible violations by Bishops.
Vos estis lux mundi allows until May 31, 2020, for the development of local systems to receive such reports. With the understanding that the implementation of the national system is months away, the bishops of the Boston Province agreed to join a program already established by the Archdiocese of Boston through an independent EthicsPoint tm website.
Much has been accomplished over nearly two decades to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, including instituting mandatory reporting to civil authorities, protection and prevention training, and pastoral support and outreach for survivors, among other steps. However, more is required to ensure that there is an effective and independent system in place to report misconduct by bishops.
Those who were sexually abused by clergy, along with their families and loved ones, must always be the central focus of our ongoing response to the sexual abuse of minors. There is no doubt that they have suffered greatly. In order for the Catholic Church to continue to restore trust and credibility, leadership must be committed to transparency and accountability. We hope and pray that this effort will further strengthen the work begun nearly two decades ago to offer healing.