The Catholic hierarchy still doesn’t get it [Opinion]

After decades of broken promises to clean up the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal, American bishops made another attempt at reform last week. Unfortunately, the new measures adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops once again reinforce the idea that the church can investigate itself. These are not the reforms that survivors and advocates wanted.

Can we trust an institution to police itself, especially when it has systematically allowed the molestation of our children and the subsequent protection of the perpetrators?

For example, within the past year in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, several priests have been allowed to continue in their ministries for months with unfettered access to children despite church officials’ knowledge of multiple accusations of abuse. Critically, these men were kept in ministry without the knowledge of children’s parents in those parishes. This irresponsible act shows that Houston church officials care more about protecting their reputation than protecting the children studying and worshiping within their diocese.

Last week, when the U.S. bishops’ conference met to further address the sexual abuse scandal, they approved accountability measures, including a new national reporting hotline to be run by the bishops’ conference. The problem with that hotline, and with the bishops’ other accountability measures, is that they continue to allow church officials to control any information related to sexual abuse that is reported to the church.

Under the new “Metropolitan model,” if a metropolitan diocese’s bishop is suspected of either sexual misconduct or covering up crimes, another bishop will investigate internally, and church officials will decide whether the information reported to them should be turned over to police. In a glaring oversight, the new pol...

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