Despite Vatican Inaction, SNAP Urges Bishops to Follow the Lead of Others
On Monday, the Vatican delayed a vote that would have let US bishops take small steps towards addressing the clergy sex abuse crisis. Despite that delay, some bishops around the country have already been taking positive steps in their own way.
Without permission from the Holy See or their colleagues in the USCCB, several US bishops have become leaders by example. In doing so, these bishops provide a counter-example to the myth that bishops cannot act on this crisis without Vatican approval. Three examples of bishops doing the right thing include:
- Bishop Stephen Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming forcing an investigation – by both police and the Vatican – into his predecessor, Bishop Joseph Hart, and publicly called the abuse accusations against Hart “credible.”
- Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston publicly criticizing Buffalo's Bishop Richard Malone for his inaction on abuse while using his influence with the Pope to call for an investigation into Malone’s diocese
- Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, MO insisting that religious orders post lists of accused priests and disallowing order priests to work in his diocese if they refuse
Others are trying to do the right thing too, such as the handful of bishops from dioceses around the country who have taken the first step towards transparency by releasing and publicly posting lists of priests accused of abuse. We encourage these bishops to take the next step and urge independent investigations into their own diocese and the dioceses of their colleagues.
Yet there are some, such as Bishop Joseph Jugis of Charlotte, NC who are taking the Vatican’s move to delay Monday’s vote as confirmation that they should continue to obfuscate and push back on efforts to bring transparency to their dioceses. But as the men listed above have shown, bishops do have the power to do the right thing of their own accord.
Regardless of what the Vatican’s move on Monday may have meant symbolically, it realistically does not prevent church officials from doing the right thing. So while the delay may have been a setback, we believe that these few bright spots signal the way ahead for now.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(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)