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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Newly-disclosed draft of US bishops' abuse policy

USCCB “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” Change-log

Key: Green text indicates an addition

Red text indicates a retraction

Italicized text is a comment or explanation


1.       Page 3, lines 6 and 7 - Adds the line “and this second revision was approved at the June 2011 General meeting” at the end of the sentence that states “It was approved by the full body of U.S. Catholic bishops at its June 2005 General Meeting.”

a.       All this edit does is show that the USCCB has approved the changes outlined in the rest of the charter.

2.       Page 3, line 14 – Adds “and then again in 2011” at the end of the sentence “It was approved by the full body of U.S. Catholic bishops at its November 2005 General Meeting.”

a.       No change, just reiteration that this Charter has been reapproved.


3.       Page 4, line 11 – Changes the beginning of the sentence to state “Again, with this 2011 revision” whereas previously it said “With this 2010 revision”

a.       Making plain that this version is the most current

4.       Page 4, line 17 – Changes a sentence that read “We have determined as best we can the extent of the problem of this abuse of minors by clergy in our country, and we await the results of a study of the causes and context of this problem,” to instead say “…clergy in our country, as well as commissioned a study of the causes…”

a.       This change notes that, for the current version of the Charter, the results of said study have received and reviewed.

5.       Page 4, line 31 – Adds the phrase “and its consequences” at the end of the line saying “the entire Catholic community has suffered because of this scandal.” Also changes the phrasing in the next sentence to reflect how much time has passed since 2002 (previously said “in the last three years,” changed to “nine years.”)

a.       This change is superficial, and the phrasing of it indicates that “the scandal” is no more, and what are happening now are merely consequences rather than a continuation of the crisis.

6.       Page 7, line 15 – Another change from “three years” to “nine years.”

7.       Page 7, line 18 – Changes “The Office of Child and Youth Protection” to say “The Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection”

a.       Indicates a reorganization of that office.

8.       Page 7, line 22 – Same as the previous edit, changes “Office” to “Secretariat”

9.       Page 7, line 23 – Changes the phrase “two reports on the implementation of the Charter” to instead read “annual reports on the implementation…”

a.       Insinuates that reports on compliance will be coming out once every year, as opposed to unscheduled.

10.    Page 7, lines 27-29 – This section deals with the duties of the National Review Board. This edit eliminates the phrase “and to commission studies on the sexual abuse of minors, and it has issued its own Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.”

a.       This seems to mean that the NRB will no longer be actively studying the crisis at hand.

11.    Page 8, lines 7 and 8 – Adds a new bullet point: “The U.S. bishops charged the National Review Board to oversee the completion of the Causes and Context study.”

a.       Appears to be superficial, seeming only to prove that bishops have actively been involved with the study and are eager to see its implementation.

12.    Page 8, lines 17 and 18 – To a bullet point about safe environment programs, adds the line “These programs continually seek to incorporate the most useful developments in the field of child protection.”

a.       Insinuates that these programs will continually be updated with best practices and new information.

To Promote Healing and Reconciliation with Victims/Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors

13.    Page 9, lines 24-32 – This section says that bishops or their representative are to meet with any survivors and be compassionate, patient, and open-eared. This edit adds a new paragraph about Pope Benedict urging bishops in 2008 to help “bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust,” and adds this line from Bishops themselves: “We bishops and eparchs commit ourselves to work as one with our brother priests and deacons to foster reconciliation among all people in our dioceses. We especially commit ourselves to work with those individuals who were themselves abused and the communities that have suffered because of the sexual abuse by minors that occurred in their midst.”

a.       This, I believe, is merely an update, reflecting the change in the papacy and, as a result of the new Pope’s words on the matter, and a rededication of the bishops to do the same thing they promised under the previous Pope.

To Ensure the Accountability of Our Procedures

14.    Page 12, line 24 – Changes the word “for” to “on”

a.       Minor grammatical edit.

15.    Page 12, line 30 – Changes “Office” to “Secretariat”

a.       Reflecting the nomenclature change previously noted.

16.    Page 13, line 2 – Exact same change as Edit #15

17.    Page 13, lines 3 and 4 – Exact same change as Edit #15 and Edit #14

18.    Page 13, line 11 – Exact same change as Edit #15

19.    Page 13, line 14 – Exact same change as Edit #14

20.    Page 13, line 18 – Exact same change as Edit #15

21.    Page 13, lines 20 and 21 – Exact same change as Edit #15 and Edit #14

22.    Page 13, line 17 – Exact same change as Edit #14

23.    Page 13, line 29 – Exact same change as Edit #15

24.    Page 14, lines 9-11 – Elimination of superfluous words

a.       Minor grammatical edits

25.    Page 14, lines 15, 17, and 26 – Exact same change as Edit #14

26.    Page 14, line 20 – Exact same change as Edit #15

To Protect the Faithful in the Future

27.    Page 16, lines 12-16 – Eliminates a paragraph that states “We pledge our complete cooperation with the Apostolic Visitation of our diocesan/eparchial seminaries and religious house of formation recommended in the Interdicasterial Meeting with the Cardinals of the U.S. and the Conference of Officers in 2002.”

a.       Whatever guidelines were said to be put into place at that meeting are no longer relevant and are not to be followed any longer.

28.    Page 16, lines 19-20 – Augments the sentence “With new urgency, we will promote programs of human formation for chastity and celibacy” by adding “and following the Apostolic Visitation of our seminaries” after the word “urgency.”

a.       Seems to indicate that seminaries will wait until a visit from the Pope or one of his delegates to “urgently” begin these programs.

29.    Page 16, lines 26-30 – See Edit #13. The new paragraph in that section that begins with “We bishops and eparchs” was actually stricken from this page and moved to page 9.

a.       Perhaps they felt the paragraph would be more powerful if it followed the statement by the new Pope. This is purely superficial.


30.    Page 17, line 3 – Again, noting the passage of time, this changes the phrase “three years ago” to “eight years ago.”

31.    Page 18, lines 10-25 – Adds a note detailing the definition of “offense of sexual abuse of a minor.” Specifically, it states that the “more grave delicts against morals” are:

a.       Sexual contact with a person below the age of 18, and someone “who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered a minor.”

b.       Acquisition, possession, or distribution of child pornography

                                                               i.      It further states that any cleric that commits either of the above crimes is “to be punished according to the gravity of his crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.”

32.    Page 18, line 27 to Page 19, line 6 – Eliminates the remainder of the paragraph that was replaced by Edit #31, which due to that edit is now superfluous.

Notes to the Essential norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons

33.    Page 27, lines 26 – 30 – Adds Note #4, which reads:

a.       “Article 19 of SST states ‘With due regard for the right of the Ordinary to impose from the outset of the preliminary investigation those measures which are established in can. 1722 of the Code of Canon Law, or in can. 1473 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, the respective presiding judge may, at the request of the Promoter of Justice, exercise the same power under the same conditions determined in the canons themselves.”

b.       When this note is traced to back to where it is used a source in the letter, it appears that it serves to specify what steps may be taken when allegations of sexual abuse arise. It makes plain that the accused “enjoys the presumption of innocence, and all appropriate steps shall be taken to protect his reputation,” but also says that when sufficient evidence is found, that priest shall apply the precautionary measures stated in the Canon law cited above, namely withdrawing the priest from exercising sacred ministry, prohibit residence in a given place, and prohibit public participation in eucharist.

A Statement of Episcopal Commitment

34.    Page 31, line 15 – Changes “we are” to “each Bishop is

a.       Grammatical change, adds specification.

35.    Page 31, line 22 – Removes “within our respective jurisdictions” in a sentence about bishops will assist each other to implement the Charter.

a.       Insinuates that Bishops everywhere are responsible for ensuring that the Charter is implemented, not just in their own territory. This removal seems to increase accountability.

36.    Page 31, line 25-31 – Reaffirms that Bishops will apply the charter to their own actions, and adds a paragraph that states if a bishop is accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, the accused bishop is obliged to inform the Apostolic Nuncio. If another bishop becomes aware of the sexual abuse of a minor by another bishop or of an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor by a bishop, he too is obliged to inform the Apostolic Nuncio.”

a.       The previous version did not spell out the required actions and steps as clearly. This edit adds clarification and seems to be directed at preventing cover-up situations.

37.    Page 32, line 3 – Changes “we will inform” to “her, or any of us who become aware of it, is obliged to inform”

a.       Reiteration that bishops are expected to police other bishops

38.    Page 32, lines 14-16 – Explains the timing of when this statement will next be reviewed. It will be reviewed the same time the Charter is, as opposed to “in five years.”

a.       Wordy, but unimportant.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests