US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Giving the US bishops' their due

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

After giving the hierarchy lumps for what I think is the absolute worst respons to the sex abuse crisis, I have to give the U.S. bishops' conference executive committee some praise for their statement yesterday on the unfolding crisis in Europe.

The statement is, of course, an expression of support for the pope, documenting as it does their own experience with him during the U.S. crisis and trying to highlight his pastoral care for victims and survivors when he visited the United States in 2008. What they did not do was villify the media or in any way blame the messenger for what they call "the crime and sin of sexual abuse by clergy."

But what I think is most important is how they close, highlighting their own commitment to making the church safe for children

through the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which calls us to respond with compassion to victims/survivors, to work diligently to screen those working with children and young people in the Church, to provide child abuse awareness and prevention education, to report suspected abuse to civil law enforcement, and to account for our efforts to protect children and youth through an external annual national audit.

This is at least is good PR that is both pastoral and effective: We know this is a serious problem, we identify with and support victims, and this is how we are trying to make things right and prevent further crimes.

It's true that their words may fall on deaf ears in the media. But at least it is part of the right response--and one the bishops I don't think ever would have come to without the guidance and participation of laypeople, wisdom that those in the Vatican have yet to learn.