By Tim Harfmann
The U.S. bishops officially opened their big summit on June 11, planning to enact new guidelines to combat abuse.
The main focus of the guidelines is on the protection of minors and young people, and bishop accountability.
President of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, in his first major appearance since suffering a stroke in March, led the way.
“We gather this week to further the sacred work of rooting the evil of sexual abuse from our church,” he told the bishops.
This is a task Pope Francis is asking the Church to tackle on a global scale.
Monsignor Walter Erbi, representing the pontiff’s ambassador to the U.S., spoke to the delegates about the importance of getting lay people involved.
“The Church needs to listen to the voices and insights of the lay faithful, to make visible the multifaceted richness of the church and to engage in a shared process with diversified responsibilities,” he said.
Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, echoing those remarks, said the Church needs to be unified.
“We need to look at the collaboration within the Church, that’s key.”
“The whole is stronger than the parts, when we work together, we’re much better off,” he added.
Tuesday’s opening agenda included presentations from two major committees made up of both lay people and clerics from across the country: the National Advisory Council and the National Review Board.
Doctor Francesco Cesareo, Chairman of the National Review Board, said that many eyes are on this highly anticipated conference.
“We find ourselves at a turning point, a critical moment in our history, which will determine in many ways the future vibrance in the Church and whether or not trust in your leadership can be restored,” he said.
“They gave some good advice, some difficult advice that we need to consider seriously because this is lay people looking at us and this is the Church,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
“It’s a microcosm and they usually are on target.”