US Bishops to Meet This Week, Look to Regain Trust

The meeting, expected to spark protests from victims, comes three months after the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report rocked the church

As the U.S. Catholic Bishops prepare to gather in Baltimore this week, bishops nationwide are releasing the names of more priests accused of abuse.

The meeting, expected to spark protests from victims, comes three months after the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report rocked the church. It provided details of more than 300 priests who had abused 1,000 victims for more than 70 years.

Allegations have also surfaced that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had abused a minor and seminarians — dating back 50 years — leaving questions as to whether the Vatican was aware when it promoted the former Washington D.C. Cardinal.

McCarrick has denied the allegations, though Pope Francis accepted his resignation this summer.

The fallout from the McCarrick controversy has left American bishops divided over what should be done to restore their credibility.

In 2002, the Catholic bishops were faced with a similar crisis over widespread priest abuse and drafted a Dallas Charter that called for zero tolerance, removing priests from ministry when allegations were found credible. But the bishops themselves are not held to the rules of the charter and critics say they have failed to police themselves as they report only to the Pope.

There is a call to amend the Dallas Charter at the Baltimore conference and include strict guidelines for bishops who ignore abuse allegations.

With Catholics calling for transparency, in the past six weeks there have been announcements from the following groups:

  • Washington D.C. Archdiocese named 31 clergy
  • Jefferson City, Missouri Diocese named 33 priests or religious brothers
  • The Atlanta Archdiocese released the names of 15 priests, seminarians and those under the direct authority of a religious order 
  • The Minneapolis Archdiocese released the names of 30 priests it believes sexually abused children between 1950 and 2013
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico Diocese identified 28 clergy as credibly accused
  • Youngstown, Ohio Diocese named 31 clergy or religious brothers
  • Indianapolis Archdiocese identified more than 20 priests
  • San Jose Diocese named 15 priests
  • Buffalo Diocese released new list of 36 priests
  • Memphis Diocese revealed 13 priests

In 2014, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George released the names of 36 more priests as he prepared to retire. In September of this year, the Chicago Archdiocese added two more names as well. names a total of more than 90 Chicago priests accused of sexual abuse over 50 years. The Chicago Archdiocese — as of four years ago — according to published reports, had paid about $130 million dollars to settle claims by victims.

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