Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on February 24, the final day of the four-day Meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences on Safeguarding of Minors at the Vatican, which was attended by presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world:
“‘The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.’ Psalm 145:18
“These have been challenging, fruitful days. The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.
“How then to bind the wounds? Intensify the Dallas Charter. Pope Francis, whom I want to thank for this assembly, called us to ‘concrete and effective measures.’ A range of presenters from cardinals to other bishops to religious sisters to lay women spoke about a code of conduct for bishops, the need to establish specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanisms, and the essential role transparency must play in the healing process.
“Achieving these goals will require the active involvement and collaboration of the laity. The Church needs their prayers, expertise, and ideas. As we have learned from diocesan review boards, a comprehensive range of skills is required to assess allegations and to ensure that local policies and procedures are regularly reviewed so that our healing response continues to be effective. All of the models discussed this week rely upon the good help of God’s people.
“I and the bishops of the United States felt affirmed in the work that is underway. Enhanced by what I experienced here, we will prepare to advance proposals, in communion with the Holy See, in each of these areas so that my brother bishops can consider them at our June General Assembly. There is an urgency in the voice of the survivors to which we must always respond. I am also aware that our next steps can be a solid foundation from which to serve also seminarians, religious women, and all those who might live under the threat of sexual abuse or the abuse of power.
“In our faith, we experience the agony of Good Friday. It can cause a sense of isolation and abandonment, but the Resurrection is God’s healing promise. In binding the wounds now before us, we will encounter the Risen Lord. In Him alone is all hope and healing.
“May I also add a sincere word of thanks to the many who prayed for me and for all that this meeting be a success.”
Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain provided the following statement to Northwest Catholic on February 25:
“I’m grateful to Cardinal DiNardo for representing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the recent Vatican summit on child sexual abuse and for affirming the commitment of American bishops to continue to work for healing and purification in the Church. He and Cardinal Cupich joined bishops, as well as lay and religious experts from around the world, to discuss the scope of the problem and the means needed to correct it. Importantly, they listened to victims of abuse and learned of the personal harm they experience. Understanding that this is a world-wide problem, Pope Francis knew it was important that he set the stage for a world-wide response. He emphasized again and again the priority of healing for victims as well as the Church’s responsibility to protect God’s little ones. Bishops, as shepherds of their dioceses, have a particular responsibility to live and act in a way that is consistent with their vocation and to ensure that everything possible is being done to create an environment on the local level that is safe and nourishing for all. The Vatican conference affirmed the pathway we American bishops had already planned to pursue at our upcoming June meeting. Among other things, we will vote on a code of conduct for bishops, a clear means of reporting abuse by bishops, and the importance of continuing and deepening the involvement of lay people in addressing the problem.”