As Bishops Gather for Prayer, Survivors Push for Reform
In October, the entirety of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Baltimore. During this meeting, hey discussed the abuse crisis. But they did not act. Now, three months later, the bishops are meeting again, this time at Mundelein Seminary outside Chicago. This time, though, they won’t even discuss the crisis.
Yet still there is hope.
Over the past several months, secular officials across the US are taking action. Between the issuing of subpoenas by Attorney General Gubir S. Grewal in New Jersey, the explosive preliminary report released in Illinois by AG Lisa Madigan, and the fact that attorneys general from states around the country have reached out to Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro to learn from his work on the August Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, we are heartened that independent officials are acting on this crisis when our bishops will not.
Still, just because outside authorities are moving does not mean that the bishops should not be acting too. Not in terms of investigating cases of clergy abuse, but in finding ways to help survivors heal and to prevent future cases of abuse from occurring again.
Just because the Vatican prevented the bishops from taking steps towards reform does not mean that they are powerless today. For example, all bishops could, this week, agree to work for statutes of limitations reform in each of their states. They could all agree to publish lists of accused clerics, nuns, and other church staff on their diocesan websites. They could voluntarily implore their state attorney general to investigate any and all files they have that could even tangentially be related to clergy abuse.
At a minimum, the bishops from each of the six Illinois Dioceses should immediately and honestly explain why, according to AG Madigan’s investigation, that only one in four abuse allegations in Illinois have been found credible and why roughly 500 priests have been kept hidden from the public.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)