Voice of the Faithful says the letter the Vatican sent on Monday, May 16, to bishops around the world regarding child sexual abuse guidelines does not go far enough to protect children.
In response, VOTF states again the recommendations made to the USCCB’s National Review Board earlier this year. These recommendations would strengthen the U.S. bishops’ policy, which is acknowledged to offer better protection against abusers than the version announced in the Vatican Letter.
VOTF offered the recommendations in light of the loopholes that permitted credibly accused priests to remain in parishes in Philadelphia even though the diocese remained “in compliance” with the USCCB guidelines.
Among the specific recommendations VOTF made to the review board and Office of Child & Youth Protection are these:
- Amending the charter to mandate specific disciplinary action for future charter violations;
- Making audits more effective, including, for example, unrestricted access to priests’ personnel files;
- Re-configuring diocesan review boards to ensure their complete independence, objectivity and expertise and to remove any conflicts of interest;
- Changing the structure of diocesan victim assistance programs to insulate victims from chancery officials, diocesan law firms and insurance companies;
- Supporting a call for bishops to stop opposing changes in state statutes of limitations that benefit clergy sexual abuse victims; and
- Holding NRB listening sessions nationwide to hear lay Catholics’ reactions to clergy child sexual abuse and its cover-up and their expectations for resolving the scandal.
VOTF recognizes that the Vatican tried to take into account the Church’s relationship to governments around the world where citizens do not have the remedy of law. But far better would be the establishment of the highest moral and legal standards for bishops that could be adjusted for special cases, rather than something less that clearly continues to expose children to abuse.
Read Vatican circular letter to bishops here.