A Catholic official is promising to visit Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and push him to comply with the church's national abuse policy, which Bruskewitz has "consistently broken for a decade," a victims group says.
Al Notzon, who heads a church panel overseeing the church hierarchy’s abuse crisis, publicly pledged to personally visit the Lincoln diocese and try to make sure that local church officials obey the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children, adopted in 2002. He made the comments last week at the bishops’ summer meeting in Atlanta.
“We're grateful for this promised effort, but doubt it will succeed," said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director for a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Bruskewitz and his staff have been flouting this allegedly binding policy for a decade. We suspect he won’t quit now.”
Bruskewitz has been one of the biggest opponents of the bishops’ abuse procedures (colloquially referred to as the “Dallas Charter). He has publicly admonished the USCCB for allegedly forcing bishops to honor it - something Bruskewitz believes is not in their power to do. He has also repeatedly balked at allowing church-hired consultants into his diocese to “audit” their systems, policies and practices.
“Bruskewitz has also refused multiple requests to post a list on his diocesan website of priests who have credible accusations of abuse against them,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “Almost 30 bishops have taken this simple, effective step toward safeguarding kids, exposing predators and warning parents. But Lincoln church officials prefer secrecy over openness and protecting predators over protecting children.”
“It’s disappointing that it took a decade for even one Catholic official anywhere to promise to try and get the Lincoln diocese in line,” said Dorris. “Still, we are grateful that Mr. Notzon has decided to take it upon himself to make Bishop Bruskewitz understand the importance of protecting kids. We think obeying this weak, vague, belated policy is a tiny step forward, and we’re sad Bishop Bruskewitz has been – and still is – so recalcitrant.”
Notzon, a Texan, chairs the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board. The body’s first chair was former prosecutor and Oklahoma governor Frank Keating.