by Susan Matthews
Coming out of last week’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a new oversight system for handling clergy child sex abuse and attempted cover-ups has been announced. It’s the same old bandaid that’s lost its sticky since they created the Dallas Charter in 2002.
Ostensibly, this system creates greater accountability. In reality, it’s just less of the same. In some instances, it’s not as comprehensive as the Charter. A lack of laity involvement, let alone management, and the rules for reporting allegations fall short.
According to an article in The New York Times, some bishops lobbied for mandatory lay involvement, but were unsuccessful. Why would that be objectionable given bishops have failed at self-investigation?
The answer according to a panel of bishops was that the pope’s decree didn’t mandate lay participation. So much for the “Holy” spirit of Church law.
“The system really perpetuates clericalism, which is something Pope Francis has criticized in other situations — the idea that priests exist on a different level than lay people and bishops exist on a different level than priests, and that’s by divine origin and you can’t even talk about changing it.”Nicholas P. Cafardi, former chairman of the national review board, as quoted in The New York Times article
This “fix” adds more insult to injury. Survivors and betrayed Catholic laity know this bandaid is just another cover-up to promote donor healing and that the Church has cured nothing.