Vatican cancels US bishops’ vote on sex abuse reform measures

Cardinal DiNardo said that the Holy See insisted that consideration of the new measures be delayed until the conclusion of a special meeting called by Pope Francis for February.

A view of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. (Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.)

By Ed Condon

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, has told the American bishops that they will not vote on two key proposals which had been expected to form the basis for the Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis.

The news came at the beginning of the U.S. bishops’ conference fall general assembly, meeting in Baltimore Nov. 12-14.

The instruction to delay consideration of a new code of conduct for bishops and the creation of a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct came directly from the Holy See, DiNardo told a visibly surprised conference hall.

Apologizing for the last minute change to the conference’s schedule, he said had only been told of the decision by Rome late yesterday.

Ahead of the bishops’ meeting, two documents had been circulated: a draft Standards of Conduct for bishops and a proposal to create a new special investigative commission to handle accusations made against bishops.

These proposals had been considered to be the bishops’ best chance to produce a substantive result during the meeting, and signal to the American faithful that they were taking firm action in the face of a series of scandals which have rocked the Church in the United States over recent months.

Speaking before the conference session had even been called to order, DiNardo told the bishops he was clearly “disappointed” with Rome’s decision. The cardinal said that, despite the unexpected intervention by Rome, he was hopeful that the Vatican meeting would prove fruitful and that its deliberations would help improve the American bishops’ eventual measures.

While DiNardo was still speaking, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago intervened from the floor, expressing his support for the pope.

“It is clear the the Holy See is taking the abuse crisis seriously,” Cupich said.

Cupich suggested that if the conference could not take a binding vote, they should instead continue with their discussions and conclude with resolution ballot on the two measures. This, he said, would help best equip Cardinal DiNardo to present the thought of the American bishops during the February meeting, where he will represent the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“We need to be very clear with [DiNardo] where we stand, and be clear with our people where we stand,” Cupich said.

While acknowledging that the February meeting was important, he noted that responding to the abuse crisis “is something we cannot delay, there is an urgency here.”

Cupich went on to propose moving forward the American bishops’ next meeting, currently scheduled for June 2019. Instead, he suggested, the bishops should reconvene in March in order to act as soon as possible after the February session in Rome.

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  1. The U.S. Bishops have just been silenced! This saddens my neart. As long as Pope Francis and his supporters are in charge, this evil will continue to prevent Graces to flow into the Church. I pray that the suffering and prayers of our good priests and faithful members of our Church be accepted as reparations for sins committed by those who held power and continue to hold power in the Church established by Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Lord have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us. Lord have mercy on us. Christ hear us. Christ graciously hear us.

    • “The U.S. Bishops have just been silenced! ”

      Its about time! May they all be converted!

      “We cry for the injustices perpetrated upon victims of abuse. We vow to fight a clerical culture that tolerates the abuse of authority. When abuse occurs, it is our sin and we must take it as such. These are not the sins of the media or the products of vast conspiracies. These are things we must recognize and fix. Our Holy Father has said it must end, and it must — not simply because he has said it, but because each of us in our hearts know that this is the only right thing to do.”
      – Archbishop Christoohe Pierre
      Apostolic Nuncio

    • Archbishop, with all due respect, the nuanced sychophantic speech that emanates from the “official” channels of The Church is for lack of a better word despicable. Its as though the shepherds are protecting the shepherds and slaughtering the sheep. Where is your compassion? Why do a last minute power play on the US bishops when you just spent an entire month with them. Couldn’t you resolve what you know was coming then? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

  2. “It is clear the the Holy See is taking the abuse crisis seriously,” Cupich said.”

    Maybe it’s clear to him, but it isn’t clear to me.

    • The Vatican may be serious about the abuse crisis. But that means only that the Vatican is against pedophilia. And that is applaudable. But the Vatican is not at all serious about homosexuality. It condones homosexuality. James Martin thinks gay sex is as normal as hetero sex. The Vatican supports James Martin. Gave him a job at the Vatican.

  3. Yet another reason Pope Francis needs to step down. He is a liability to the Church and doing everything in his power to sabotage efforts to curb sexual abuse.

  4. The Vatican’s decision to prevent the USCCB from voting on reform may convince secular authorities in the USA that the Church is not serious in protecting those vulnerable to sexual predators. I look for more states to launch grand jury investigations similar to that of Pennsylvania. I fear the Church has lost its last chance to be proactive and if any reform takes place, it will come from the secular arm.

    • It’s like we are witnessing the corruption in the era of the Reformation all over again, and there were no serious attempts at reform until after the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked and looted Rome. It may take a similar chastisement for the Church Hierarchy to take this crisis seriously.

  5. Canon 333 of the Code of Canon Law states, in part, that the Pope “obtains the primacy of ordinary power over all particular churches and groups of them….” I’m not sure what exactly that means, but my prior post may have been in error.

  6. Cupich interrupted to give the Vatican spiel to show who really was boss.
    Personally, I think as this does not have to do with Doctrinal questions, it is time for some spine from our bishops, and to practice some good old fashioned Civil Disobedience.

    Until they show that spine, and until they expose this rampant corruption, and not allow it to be swept under the rug of decades…

    NOT ONE THIN DIME….except to charities and parishes I KNOW are Faithful.

    • I watched the 9 o’clock EWTN broadcast and the guy (forgot his name) who reported Cupich’s statement said it was his clear impression that Cupich knew what was coming and was ready for it.

      • And did you see the expression on Archbishop Chaput’s face as His Royal Highness spewed forth? (He could be seen behind Cupich, to the left.) Archbishop Chaput looked shocked and angry – and rightly so.

  7. Somewhere in the mix are at least two longer-term risks:

    (a) a threat to the sacramental seal due to aggressive state Attorney’s General probes (think Australia), and (b) the possible and even unintended mission creep of the lay investigation initially focused on sexual abuse and embedded homosexuality, e.g., eventually extending into disposal of Church properties to cover future lawsuits?

    “Trusteeship” was an issue in early 20th century America, and 16th-century lay takeover of the Church by nation-states was an outcome of the Reformation (triggered by the comparatively trivial abuse of “indulgences” salesmanship).

    Whether further delay helps or worsens the malignant and potentially far-reaching big picture is high-end Calculus. A different Vatican action could have been to simply announce, however late, a Visitation, and then to order the announced pause on pending USCCB actions.

    Now the proof is in the pudding–a very short four days in February. Announcement of an extended and more functional session could be a good sign.

    • It is not “high end calculus”. It is not rocket science.
      The bishop of Rome planned the timing of this kick to the bishops groin perfectly.
      Francis holds DiNardo, et al, in complete contempt: just as he does the American pewsitter.
      The states attorneys general will have an absolute field day with this.
      So be it.

  8. This was all scripted by the Holy See, make no mistake about it.

    The diminutive Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago is Pinocchio to the Pontiff’s Geppetto.

  9. Bergoglio likes controlling votes whether it’s here or at the Youth Synod where voting was pushed through for the final document whether someone really considered what they’re voting for or not.

    Adios, Aristotle and Aquinas. Welcome to the hyper-voluntarist “spirituality” of Bergoglio, Spadaro and yes, Martin.. where the “Ignatian” has a lot in common with Machiavelli and Nietzsche.

    This is really a dangerous game though, where the folks playing at being crazy are actually crazy. This nervous breakdown, masquerading as new and improved, once in slow motion is now ever-escalating. This acting out won’t be resolved in family or by the family doctor but by the decisive interventions of that less spiritual, secular part of our psychiatric team known in the broadest sense as “the authorities” or “the cops.”

    Should we also pray? Yes. Many rosaries…numbers of rosaries similar to those Bergoglio disparaged when he became Bishop of Rome.

  10. If my child is stricken with dangerous illness, a life threatening,,but my husband due to poor judgement,,delay the life saving treatment,will i commit disobedience if i will bypass him?The situation is the same in the church..Men of goodwill must act now…

  11. Actually it makes sense for them to wait until the February. Though it would’ve been better had the Holy See told them earlier than at last minute.

    • No, it does NOT make sense for the U.S. Bishops to wait until February. They’ve had a conflagaration on their hands since this summer. If it’s complexity around the issues, this is precisely why they need their November meeting for part 1 and February for a part 2 for addressing the current crisis. There’s a good chance that the lavender mafia led by Cupich–which wants to reduce the sexual abuse crisis to clericalism only, or about any other theory, as long as the topics of homosexuality and gay power cliques are not also brought into a serious forensic examination–was alarmed by a November 2018 study produced by Fr. Paul Sullins’ (Ph.D., sociology)and issued by the Ruth Institute that corrects the gay-friendly PC conclusions of the otherwise very pertinent John Jay Report. Every single U.S. bishop received a copy of this study, which establishes a high correlation between homosexuality among priests and clerical sexual abuse. Corrupt forces within the Vatican and their proxies in the U.S. were at risk of facing uncomfortable questions and even possibly an organized push back against those who wish to ignore the pink elephant in the room.

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