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  Additional Comments from Bishop Conlon Following the November 2018 USCCB General Assembly

November 20, 2018

Additional Comments from Bishop Conlon
Following the November 2018 USCCB General Assembly

The U.S. bishops’ assembly in Baltimore last week was quite unusual.  Although we tended to some other business, including approving a pastoral letter against racism, the vast majority of the meeting was devoted to the current child abuse scandal wracking the Church. 

The big news was an announcement that Pope Francis had requested that we not move forward on a proposal to adopt provisions for dealing with complaints against bishops, either allegations of abuse itself or failure to address allegations against others.  But on the first day we proceeded with three excellent presentations by lay people, some themselves victims of clerical abuse, within a context of prayer and reflection.  On the second and third days, multiple hours were devoted to a very frank discussion about how to deal with complaints against bishops, even though we knew that no formal action could be taken.

Sure, we were frustrated that no action could be taken.  On the plus side, Pope Francis is calling together next February the presidents of all the episcopal conferences around the world to deal with the issue.  Our president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, will certainly go to that meeting well-prepared with the sentiments of the U.S. bishops.  Our discussion last week revealed that there may be more than one way to handle complaints against bishops.  However, there appeared to be universal agreement that some provision needs to be made and that it needs to involve substantial lay engagement.

The bishops also expressed strong feelings about getting to the bottom of the situation involving now-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.  This will require the involvement of the Holy See, although inquests are already underway in the four dioceses where McCarrick served as a priest and bishop.

I truly believe that the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People sixteen years ago has put us on sound footing for providing safe environments for our youth and addressing allegations of abuse.  The Diocese of Joliet has received a positive external audit report regarding the Charter every year since its implementation.  I need to be very clear that no one, priests in particular, who has had a credible allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor brought against him or her is engaged in any official role in the Diocese of Joliet. 

I realize that recent media reports, especially concerning Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury, may give the impression that the problem is ongoing.  People understandably are angry or at least wary.  Nothing can make up for the past.  While we repeat our apologies to those who were harmed, their pain cannot be dissolved.  We move forward with resolve to do our absolute best and rely on the mercy and strength of the Lord.

 – END –

18.11.20 _ Additional Comments from Bishop Conlon regarding the November 2018 USCCB General Assembly.pdf
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