BOSTON, Mass., Sept. 13, 2018 – When Pope Francis met today with two U.S. cardinals, one archbishop and one monsignor, one obvious face was missing: a lay person. Once again the 99.9 percent of the Catholic faithful worldwide are asked to wait while the .1 percent meets to decide what to do about clerical child abuse. That omission will be repeated in February when the presidents of all bishops’ conferences worldwide will meet at the Vatican with Pope Francis. The February meeting is said to be unprecedented.
At the meeting, prelates will discuss child abuse prevention, perhaps to attain consensus on child protection guidelines worldwide. Laudable and long overdue, that effort still does not address another significant omission in the hierarchy’s response to abuse crimes and their coverups—thus far, no church-wide meeting has been announced to discuss bishop accountability for the abuse made known by successive government and grand jury reports.
Child sex abuse by clergy affects children, families, faith communities: lay people. Should we not also be included in discussions about preventing such abuse? Should we not also discuss and hold accountable the bishops who enabled coverups and subsequent abuse?
Bishops and hierarchal officials alone cannot restore the trust that their actions have destroyed. Nor can they alone reform the structures that enabled the crimes and abuse.
Voice of the Faithful suggests setting a second precedent at the February meeting: have lay people, selected entirely by lay people, attend that same meeting. Recognize that we have a much higher stake in the outcome even than the clergy.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Sept. 13, 2018
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.