Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

I attended the annual bishops’ meeting of the US in Baltimore last week. Our meetings are traditionally held in Baltimore since Baltimore is the oldest US diocese. (Catholics my age recall the Baltimore Catechism. It was named that because it was written by the bishops at a meeting in Baltimore.)
The meeting of the bishops in Baltimore was disappointing and frustrating. I served on the Administrative Committee of the USCCB (my three-year term ended last week) and we met for two days in September to plan for the USCCB November meeting. We formalized four proposals: a third-party reporting system for complaints of misconduct by bishops, an independent commission to investigate such complaints and advise the Nuncio, a code of conduct for bishops which would also include the bishops in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Minors and Young People, and a resource explaining to diocesan bishops their authority over retired bishops in their dioceses, especially those removed for misconduct.
I thought we had accomplished a great deal and after our September meeting these proposals went to other USCCB committees for further input and development. Admittedly, there were serious concerns and issues which still needed to be considered in regard to these proposals, but I was looking forward to such a discussion at last week’s meeting in Baltimore. As you are probably aware the bishops, at the insistence of the Holy See, were prohibited from any votes on these proposals.
In fairness to Pope Francis, he has called a meeting in February for the presidents of each conference of bishops from throughout the world to discuss clerical misconduct. It may be prudent, although frustrating, to wait until that meeting before the US bishops act. This will allow our action to be in communion with the universal Church. The Holy See has also promised an investigation into the matter of then Cardinal McCarrick.
I am aware that there is disappointment, anger, and outrage among many in the Church. At the same time, the 2002 Charter has accomplished a great deal in fostering the protection of minors while involved in Church ministries. The data supporting this is clear.
Regardless, nothing that happened or didn’t happen at Baltimore affects what we are doing in the Archdiocese of Mobile. We will continue to:
* Conduct background checks on all employees, clergy, as well as all volunteers who minister to minors.
* Have safe environment training for all employees, clergy, as well as volunteers who minister to minors, and for all minors in our schools, parish religious education and youth ministries.
* Have annual safe environment training renewal training for all employees, clergy, as well as volunteers who minister to minors, and for all minors in our schools, parish religious education and youth ministries.
* Report all accusations of abuse of minors to civil authorities.
* Refer all accusations of abuse of minors by clergy, employees, as well as volunteers who minister to minors to the archdiocesan independent review board for examination and advice.
* Prohibit anyone who has credible and substantiated accusations of abuse of minors from serving in our archdiocese.
* Prepare and publish a list of all clergy who have served in our archdiocese since 1950 who have been removed from ministry due to accusations of abuse of minors.
As we celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving this week, I give thanks to God for you, the people of our archdiocese. Together let us continue to teach, celebrate, and live our faith always being faithful to the Faithful One who calls us into His family. May you and your loved ones have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

By Editor

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