Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is seen at the opening of the bishops’ annual spring assembly in Florida in June. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a lengthy letter to U.S. Catholics Aug. 16, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo announced three key goals and a comprehensive plan to address the “moral catastrophe” of the new abuse scandal hitting the U.S. church.
In the letter he references “A Statement of Episcopal Commitment” that is part of the bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” approved in Dallas in 2002.
Here is the text of the statement of commitment:
We bishops pledge again to respond to the demands of the Charter in a way that manifests our accountability to God, to God’s people, and to one another. Individually and together, we acknowledge mistakes in the past when some bishops transferred, from one assignment to another, priests who abused minors. We recognize our roles in the suffering this has caused, and we continue to ask forgiveness for it.
Without at all diminishing the importance of broader accountability, this statement focuses on the accountability which flows from our episcopal communion and fraternal solidarity, a moral responsibility we have with and for each other.
While bishops are ordained primarily for their diocese or eparchy, we are called as well to protect the unity and to promote the common discipline of the whole church (CIC, c. 392; CCEO, c. 201). Participating in the college of bishops, each bishop is responsible to act in a manner that reflects both effective and affective collegiality.
Respecting the legitimate rights of bishops who are directly accountable to the Holy See, in a spirit of collegiality and fraternity we renew our commitment to the following:
1. Within each province, we will assist each other to interpret correctly and implement the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” always respecting church law and striving to reflect the Gospel.
2. We will apply the requirements of the charter also to ourselves, respecting always church law as it applies to bishops. Therefore, if a bishop is accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, the accused bishop is obliged to inform the apostolic nuncio. If another bishop becomes aware of such an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor by a bishop, he too is obliged to inform the apostolic nuncio and comply with applicable civil laws.
3. In cases of financial demands for settlements involving allegations of any sexual misconduct by a bishop, he, or any of us who become aware of it, is obliged to inform the apostolic nuncio.
4. Within each of our provinces, as an expression of collegiality, including fraternal support, fraternal challenge and fraternal correction, we will engage in ongoing mutual reflection upon our commitment to holiness of life and upon the exercise of our episcopal ministry.
In making this statement, we firmly uphold the dignity of every human being and renew our commitment to live and promote the chastity required of all followers of Christ and especially of deacons, priests and bishops.
This Statement of Episcopal Commitment will be reviewed by the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations upon the next review of the charter.