Catholic bishops’ meeting nears end, no vote on abuse plan
BALTIMORE – U.S. Catholic bishops made clear their frustrations Wednesday as a national assembly focused on clergy sex-abuse neared its conclusion without strong new steps to combat the multifaceted crisis.
Avoiding any direct confrontation with the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ended the public sessions of its three-day meeting without any vote on two major anti-abuse proposals that had been drafted weeks ago. On the eve of this week’s meeting, the Vatican issued a surprise order for such action to be delayed until after a global meeting on sex abuse scheduled for February.
“The decision of the Holy See to constrain us did allow a limited response,” Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont said. “All of us are disappointed that we weren’t able to do as much as we wanted.”
The U.S. Catholic church has been grappling with sex-abuse scandals for many years, but events this year have taken a heavy toll on the leadership’s credibility.
In August, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailed decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, alleging more than 1,000 children had been abused over the years by about 300 priests. Since then, federal prosecutors and attorneys general in several other states have launched investigations.
Bishops at this week’s meeting appeared to be most angered and embarrassed by the scandal involving disgraced church leader Theodore McCarrick, who allegedly abused and harassed youths and seminarians over many years as he rose to be archbishop of Washington and a member of the College of Cardinals until his removal by Pope Francis in July.