By Tim Harfmann
U.S. bishops voted on Wednesday in a big step forward for bishop accountability and protecting young people.
The major decision on day two of the bishops Spring meeting was establishing a third-party reporting system for allegations of abuse and any mishandling of cases by bishops.
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles voted in favor of the reporting system, which would be set-up to receive accusations either by phone or email.
“We feel very strongly about getting something in place very rapidly,” he said.
The majority of bishops, over 180 of them, agreed.
Now, a committee will create a detailed proposal on how the system would work and present it to the bishops at their next meeting in November.
Holding bishops accountable is a major new development since establishing the Charter for Protecting Minors and Young People in 2002, better known as the Dallas Charter.
“Since 2002 this has been in place with regard to priests, and so with the McCarrick part of this scandal, we’ve now begun to address the bishop issue,” said Bishop Barron.
Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont was once the spokesperson in the Archdiocese of Boston, where the abuse scandal broke in 2002.
He said it’s been a long, 17-year process, but bishops are taking strides.
“It’s been very frustrating because there are things that we still need to deal with, but there’s so much that we already accomplished,” he said.
That includes establishing reporting lines in individual dioceses across the county. Now, they’ll do it on a national level.
“For the most part,” Bishop Coyne added, “almost every diocese as brought into place protocols and procedures and guidelines to protect children. In the last 16 or 17 years, we’ve seen an incredible drop in the amount of cases that have been reported.”