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President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Issues Statement on Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio Ordering Worldwide Response to the Evil of Sexual Abuse

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding the release of Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio earlier today. The Motu Proprio, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), is a worldwide order to the Church from the Pope, in response to the evil of sexual abuse. The new law comes after a meeting in Rome that brought together all episcopal conference presidents from across the globe to discuss the Church sex abuse crisis. (Related Artice from the Vatican News website)

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Today, Pope Francis ordered a worldwide response to the evil of sexual abuse. It calls for the establishment of easily accessible reporting systems, clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families, timeliness and thoroughness of investigations, whistleblower protection for those making allegations, and active involvement of the laity. It also leaves latitude for national bishops’ conferences, such as the USCCB, to specify still more to account for their local circumstances. We receive the Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi (‘You are the light of the world’) as a blessing that will empower the Church everywhere to bring predators to justice, no matter what rank they hold in the Church. It also permits the Church the time and opportunity to bring spiritual healing.

The Holy Father said a ‘continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church.’ Pope Francis was clear that this responsibility ‘falls, above all, on the successors of the Apostles.’ As part of this responsibility, bishops also will be held accountable under the authority of this Motu Proprio, which covers sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons, sexual acts compelled through the abuse of authority, and any coverup of such crimes.

In publishing this new law, which is applicable to the Church throughout the world, Pope Francis has made clear that protection and healing must reach all of God’s children. Following on the meeting just two months ago of all episcopal conference presidents, the Motu Proprio shows Pope Francis expects swift and comprehensive progress. For the Church in the United States, the task before us now is to establish whatever is necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the Motu Proprio. Our committees have already begun the work of preparing implementation measures for deliberation at the USCCB Plenary Assembly in June. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to build upon the excellent foundation of the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, and the Statement of Episcopal Commitment, all of which date back to 2002. The existing framework in the United States including victim outreach, zero tolerance, reporting allegations to civil authorities, and lay expertise on review boards, among other measures – positions us readily to bring the Holy Father’s instructions to action. By embracing the painful experience of survivors and working on these new protections, let us pray we continue to grow into a stronger Church.”

Pope Francis Establishes New Rules for the Whole Church To Strengthen Protections for Children and Vulnerable Persons

Pope Francis has issued a document known as a Motu Proprio called Vos estis lux  Mundi (You are the Light of the World) that establishes new procedures for reporting abuse and violence and ensures that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. (Related article from the Vatican)

This is an opportunity to build upon the foundation of our local diocesan policies and the  USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons, and the Statement of Episcopal Commitment, all of which date back to 2002 or earlier. The existing framework in the United States includes victim outreach, zero tolerance, reporting allegations to civil authorities, lay expertise on review boards, and other measures. Learn more about our Safe Environment Program here. 

Read the Motu Proprio here.

Q & A on the Motu Proprio from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is found below.

What does the new Motu Proprio do?
 The new Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi is a significant move forward for the universal Church, one that echoes many of the practices established in the U.S. Bishops’ Essential Norms and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that have been in force in the United States since 2002.  For example, it affirms the existing:

  • Commitment to provide for the spiritual and emotional well-being of victims/ survivors and their families;
  • Duty to comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities;
  • Right of any person to report such crimes;
  • Guarantee of a prompt and objective investigation;
  • Assurance of lay involvement

The Motu Proprio also continues to focus on victims by significantly building upon existing local practices, for example by expanding the scope of cases to include:

  • The sexual abuse of a new classification of “vulnerable persons,”
  • The use of violence or other abuse of power to perform or submit to sexual acts,
  • Any cover up of such conduct by other;
  • Those who are to be reported for such cases, namely, cardinals, bishops, other clerics, religious superiors, and other members of institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life;
  • Reporting obligations to include mandatory, internal reporting;
  • Safeguards against retaliation or discrimination by mandating “whistle-blower” protections

When do these norms take effect?

  • They will take effect on June 1, 2019;
  • They will be reviewed by the Holy See after three years and adjusted as needed;
  • Every diocese and eparchy (either individually or collectively) is to have a publicly accessible means for people to report cases covered under the Motu Proprio by June 1, 2020. In the United States, while this has already been accomplished for cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, reporting mechanisms will have to be modified to serve the broader categories of the Motu Proprio.

What about cases of sexual misconduct that do not fall under this Motu Proprio?
These are generally already covered by existing diocesan or eparchial codes of conduct.  With the help of lay and legal experts, bishops are working on ways to ensure that coverage and enhance awareness and reporting mechanisms for such cases.

 How are transparency and confidentiality promoted in this new Motu Proprio?
The Motu Proprio increases transparency by establishing clear procedures that must be followed, reaffirming the obligation to report to civil authorities, providing for lay involvement in internal investigations, protecting from possible conflicts of interest, and ensuring that those who report complaints to the Church are also free to report the same information to others and are protected from retaliation.  At the same time, because the Motu Proprio involves the investigation of a complaint, it carefully balances the rights of those involved.  Confidentiality is needed for the effectiveness of the investigation. It protects victims and witnesses, as well as the presumption of innocence and the seal of the confessional.

Does this new Motu Proprio interfere or hinder civil law, such as mandatory reporting requirements and civil investigations?
In no way.  The Motu Proprio establishes the canonical (Church law) procedures that are to be followed.  Included in these procedures, however, is the obligation to comply with all applicable civil laws.

(Additional Info: The Diocese of St. Petersburg Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults states that all are to “Call in all reports of actual or suspected abuse to the local law enforcement agency (911) or to the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) Abuse Hotline Registry: 1-800-96ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).”) Read our policy here.)

Zero tolerance is not mentioned.  Is that no longer the policy of the Catholic Church?
In the United States, zero tolerance has been the policy since 2002, which comes from the Charter and the Essential Norms.  The Motu Proprio does not undo this policy.  Other episcopal conferences around the world have or will be developing policies appropriate to their legal and cultural situations.  The good news here is that what was first thought of as an “American problem” or a “Western problem” is now on everyone’s radar.

 Why does the Motu Proprio focus on the role of the Metropolitan?

  • The Motu Proprio uses the Metropolitan because it is a position in the Church that is grounded in tradition and the teaching of Vatican II and is governed by existing canon law.
  • This also allows investigations to be carried out on the local level, where the Metropolitan will have more direct access to information, documents, and lay experts to help investigate, and can collaborate with civil authorities. The Metropolitan, being local, can also take measures to preserve and secure evidence.
  • Recent investigations of misconduct by a bishop, such as in West Virginia, have successfully followed this practice.

What does this mean for the proposals the U.S. bishops considered last November?

The work of our committees that has already taken place will be examined and adapted to work within the framework of the new Motu Proprio and will be the basis for deliberation over its implementation at the USCCB Plenary Assembly in June.

Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Q & A available online with statement at

Statement Regarding Father George B. Dyer, O.P., a Deceased Priest Who Served in the Diocese of St. Petersburg Between 1980-1981

The Diocese of St. Petersburg has learned that George B. Dyer, O.P., has been listed in a recent report released by Jeff Anderson & Associates, P.A., as a priest against whom an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor in the State of Illinois has been deemed credible. Father Dyer was ordained in 1961 for the Dominican Order.  Among his many assignments, he served as Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Tampa from October 1, 1980 to March 30, 1981.  Father Dyer was removed from active ministry in 2006 and died in 2013.

Anyone who is aware of abuse is urged to report the crime to local law enforcement.  Pastoral assistance may also be obtained by contacting the Diocese of St. Petersburg Victim Assistance Minister at (866) 407-4505.

We continue to pray for all people whose lives have been wounded by crimes of abuse.  We denounce all forms of sexual abuse by any person or any institution as a reprehensible crime and believe that perpetrators should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Statement from Bishop Gregory Parkes on the “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church”

“The historic Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church enabled the global leadership of the Catholic Church to clearly hear the voices of victims of sexual abuse. Those voices will forever influence our decisions so that no one will again feel the pain of being abused and the additional wounds of being abandoned or ignored.

I too have met with and heard from victim survivors and I commit to doing all that I can to seek justice for these brave men and women and to provide healing through counseling and pastoral support.

While the evil of child sexual abuse infects our entire society, and while the Church has made great progress in accountability and setting standards for a safe environment, we must do more within the Church and within society to make the protection of children our top priority.

As Pope Francis said, ‘if in the Church there should emerge even a single case of abuse – which already in itself represents an atrocity – that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness.’”


Nearly 200 cardinals, bishops and religious superiors from around the world attended the “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church” at the Vatican Feb. 21-24.  Pope Francis has mandated that participants come up with “concrete” initiatives at a local level to help the Church in protecting minors. The pope pointed to the work of international organizations in their “Seven Strategies for Ending Violence against Children” and guidelines and other resources produced by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The U.S. bishops are meeting June 9-14 to discuss concrete measures for the U.S.

At a press briefing following the conclusion of the meeting, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Moderator of the Meeting, announced three Vatican-led initiatives:

  1. The imminent publication of a Motu proprio by the Pope, providing rules and regulations to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults within Vatican City State.
  2. The distribution of a “vademecum” (or rulebook) to Bishops around the world, explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities with regard to protecting children.
  3. The creation of an operative “task force”, comprising competent experts, to assist those Bishops’ Conferences that may lack the necessary resources or expertise to confront the issue of safeguarding minors, and deal with abuse.

To learn more, click here.

President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Issues Statement at Close of Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement on the final day of a four-day meeting attended by Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences from across the globe.  

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

“These have been challenging, fruitful days. The witness of survivors revealed for us, again, the deep wound in the Body of Christ. Listening to their testimonies transforms your heart. I saw that in the faces of my brother bishops. We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.

How then to bind the wounds? Intensify the Dallas Charter. Pope Francis, whom I want to thank for this assembly, called us to ‘concrete and effective measures.’ A range of presenters from cardinals to other bishops to religious sisters to lay women spoke about a code of conduct for bishops, the need to establish specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanisms, and the essential role transparency must play in the healing process.

Achieving these goals will require the active involvement and collaboration of the laity. The Church needs their prayers, expertise, and ideas. As we have learned from diocesan review boards, a comprehensive range of skills is required to assess allegations and to ensure that local policies and procedures are regularly reviewed so that our healing response continues to be effective. All of the models discussed this week rely upon the good help of God’s people.

I and the bishops of the United States felt affirmed in the work that is underway. Enhanced by what I experienced here, we will prepare to advance proposals, in communion with the Holy See, in each of these areas so that my brother bishops can consider them at our June General Assembly. There is an urgency in the voice of the survivors to which we must always respond. I am also aware that our next steps can be a solid foundation from which to serve also seminarians, religious women, and all those who might live under the threat of sexual abuse or the abuse of power.

In our faith, we experience the agony of Good Friday. It can cause a sense of isolation and abandonment, but the Resurrection is God’s healing promise. In binding the wounds now before us, we will encounter the Risen Lord. In Him alone is all hope and healing.

May I also add a sincere word of thanks to the many who prayed for me and for all that this meeting be a success.”

Protection of Minors: Press Briefing Announces Concrete Initiatives

The “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting concludes with a Press Briefing in the Vatican and the announcement of concrete commitments and initiatives to protect children and to combat abuse. By Vatican News

There have been four Press Conferences, coinciding with the four days of the Meeting. Each one has provided a synthesis of the day’s discussions and reflections, and allowed journalists an opportunity to engage with participants and speakers in what was often a lively Q&A session.

One implicit (and explicit) question underscored the concluding press briefing on Sunday: “What now”? Expectations were high, especially given Pope Francis’ mandate to participants, at the start of the Meeting, to come up with “concrete” initiatives to help the Church in protecting minors.

It fell to Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, as Moderator of the Meeting on the “Protection of Minors in the Church”, to announce three such initiatives:

1. The imminent publication of a Motu proprio by the Pope, providing rules and regulations to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults within Vatican City State.

2. The distribution of a “vademecum” (or rulebook) to Bishops around the world, explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities with regard to protecting children.

3. The creation of an operative “task force”, comprising competent experts, to assist those Bishops’ Conferences that may lack the necessary resources or expertise to confront the issue of safeguarding minors, and deal with abuse.

There was a fourth response to the “what now” question: the fact that the Organizing Committee will be meeting with heads of Vatican Curia departments to discuss follow-up and reflect on a related question: “What next?”

Media relationships

The “Protection of Minors” Meeting in the Vatican has received extensive coverage throughout the media over the last few days. The Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, Paolo Ruffini, acknowledged as much when he thanked journalists for their work. He stressed the role of journalists as that of “searching for and reporting the truth”. He spoke of the importance of “listening without prejudice”, and confirmed how   “there can be no communication if everyone is talking and no one is listening”. Ruffini, and others on the panel at the Press Conference, praised Mexican journalist, Valentina Alazraki, for her “courageous” contribution to the Meeting on Saturday, when she addressed the Bishops on the theme of transparency: “Communication to all people”.

Addressing the Press Conference, Valentina Alazraki encouraged “working together with the Church” on this issue, but reminded the Bishops never to say “no comment”, and to be sure to provide media with “timely and fair information”.

Last impressions

Asked for his take-away on the “Protection of Minors” Meeting, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, called it “timely, useful, and necessary”. He and his brother Bishops, he said, came away with a universal understanding and consciousness that confronting the problem of abuse is “a priority for the Church”. He also praised the contribution of women at the encounter, highlighting the value of their “feminine insights and perspectives”.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta provided his own “flashbacks of these four days”. He said he was struck by the Holy Father’s concluding speech and his clarity, defining both abuse and cover-ups as “egregious crimes”. “There is no going back”, said the Archbishop. He also said that the presence of victims-survivors was a vital part of the experience. “We cannot not listen to victim-survivors”, he added. Archbishop Scicluna stressed how “at the end of the day, it is a change of heart that is important”. We need the right motivation and, for that, we need to listen to different voices – including those of women, who (in the case of this Meeting) provided a “breath of fresh air”.

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, is a member of the Organizing Committee and Head of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He spoke of a “qualitative and quantitative leap along a decade-long journey that will continue”. Attitudes have changed, he said, and people have been transformed: they are determined to “go back home and do something about it”.

Right now, concluded Fr. Zollner, “we need to focus on what we have done here” at this Meeting in the Vatican, and to tackle “the systemic roots of the problem”. These, the themes of the three days of the Meeting, reflect both the problem and the solution: Responsibility, Accountability, and Transparency.

World Meeting for the Protection of Minors Ends with Pope Francis Appealing for an “All-Out Battle against the Abuse of Minors,

In a major address on Sunday, Pope Francis contextualizes the “scourge” of abuse, and appeals for an “all-out battle against the abuse of minors, both sexually and in other areas.” By Vatican News

“The time has come, then, to work together to eradicate the evil” of child abuse, Pope Francis said, in a speech delivered at the close of the final Mass for the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church. “The time has come to find a correct equilibrium of all values in play and to provide uniform directives for the Church, avoiding the two extremes of a ‘justicialism’ provoked by guilt for past errors and media pressure, and a defensiveness that fails to confront the causes and effects of these grave crimes”.

Speaking to church leaders, primarily the presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences, the Holy Father said, “the Church’s aim will be to hear, watch over, protect, and care for abused, exploited, and forgotten children, wherever they are”. To achieve that goal, he continued, “the Church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by little ones”.

A global context

Pope Francis began his address by putting the sexual abuse of children in a global context. The work of the Meeting, he said, “has made us realize once again that the gravity of the scourge of sexual abuse of minors is, and historically has been, a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies”. Even today, he said, it is difficult to get a true idea of “the real extent of the phenomenon”, since sexual abuse is often not reported, “particularly the great number committed within families”. Citing the best data available – “in my opinion,” he said, still partial” – the Pope said the “first truth that emerges” is that “those who perpetrate abuse that is acts of physical, sexual, or emotional violence, are primarily parents, relatives, husbands of child brides, coaches, and teachers”.

The Pope concludes, “we are thus facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere, and affecting everyone”. “Yet we need to be clear”, he continues, “that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the Church”. Indeed, “the brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the Church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility”.

The Church, Pope Francis says, “feels called to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of her mission, which is to preach the Gospel to the little ones and to protect them from ravenous wolves”. He insists, “if in the Church there should emerge even a single case of abuse – which already in itself represents an atrocity – that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness”.

Pope Francis notes that the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors cannot be understood without considering “power”, “since it is always the result of an abuse of power” which is also present “in other forms of abuse”, such as “child soldiers, child prostitutes, starving children”, trafficking victims, “child victims of war, refugee children, aborted children, and so many others”.

A manifestation of the spirit of evil

But, the Pope continues, “Before all this cruelty, all this idolatrous sacrifice of children to the god of power, money, pride and arrogance, empirical explanations alone are not sufficient”. While empirical explanations can provide an explanation, they are “incapable of giving us a meaning”. So, he asks, “what would be the existential ‘meaning’ of this criminal phenomenon”. “In the light of its human breadth and depth, it is none other than the present-day manifestation of the spirit of evil”. He warns that “if we fail to take account of this dimension, we will remain far from the truth and lack real solutions”.

Pope Francis says that “Just as we must take every practical measure that common sense, the sciences and society offer us, neither must we lose sight of this reality; we need to take up the spiritual means that the Lord himself teaches us: humiliation, self-accusation, prayer and penance”. This, he says, “is the only way to overcome the spirit of evil”.

Looking to “best practices” formulated under the guidance of the World Health Organization, as well as the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the contributions made by the “Protection of Minors” Meeting, Pope Francis said the Church going forward will concentrate in particular on eight aspects of the crisis: protection of children, impeccable seriousness, genuine purification, formation, strengthening and reviewing guidelines by Episcopal Conferences, accompaniment of those who have been abused, the digital world, and sexual tourism”.

Notably, Pope Francis reiterated his commitment that “the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes. The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case” of abuse of minors.

The Holy Father also thanked all priests and consecrated persons “who serve the Lord faithfully and totally”, despite the “shameful conduct of some of their confreres”; as well as the “majority of priests who are not only faithful to their celibacy, but spend themselves in a ministry today made even more difficult by the scandals of the few (but always too many of their confreres”. He thanked, too, the faithful, who “who are well aware of the goodness of their pastors, and who continue to pray for them and to support them”.

Opportunity for purification
Finally, the Pope stressed the importance of “turning this evil into an opportunity for purification”. Quoting Edith Stein, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Pope Francis said, “Surely, the decisive events of history of the world have been essentially influenced by souls about whom the history books remain silent”. The “holy, faithful People of God”, he explained, “in its daily silence, in many forms and ways continues to demonstrate and attest with ‘stubborn’ hope that the Lord never abandons but sustains the constant and, in so many cases, painful devotion of his children”.

“The best results and the most effective resolution that we can offer to the victims, to the People of Holy Mother Church and to the entire world”, the Pope said, “are the commitment to personal and collective conversion, the humility of learning, listening, assisting and protecting the most vulnerable”.

An all-out battle against abuse

And he concluded his address with his “heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth: this is demanded by all the many victims hidden in families and in the various settings of our societies”.


“Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting in the Vatican to be held February 21-24, 2019

By Barbara Castelli

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna is Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a member of the Organizing Committee for the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting. During Monday’s Press Conference to present the Meeting, he made it clear that the event is part of a journey the Church undertook some time ago. It is important it create the right conditions for there to be a concrete “follow up”, he said.

The Bishops will return to their dioceses to continue the work, drawing up “procedures”, being more aware of their responsibilities. When it comes to “protecting innocence”, insisted the Archbishop, “we must not give up”: we need to seek ever more adequate solutions to the problem, so that “the Church may be a safe place for everyone, especially children”. Archbishop Scicluna also spoke of the “expectations” around this meeting, specifying that they need to be “reasonable”. Not all the problems can be solved in three days, he said. Answering journalists’ questions, the Archbishop said it is important we move away from “the code of silence”, because silence is unacceptable, he added.


Cardinal Blase J. Cupich is Archbishop of Chicago, and also a member of the Organizing Committee. He too replied to questions from the many journalists at the press conference, speaking of a “new dawn as far as transparency is concerned”. The Cardinal made it clear that the Bishops present, for the most part Presidents of Episcopal Conferences, must clearly understand their responsibilities in this regard, and that a precise “program of safeguarding” can prevent a repetition of what happened in the past. Cardinal Cupich pointed out that many of those who will be taking part in the Vatican Meeting have met with victims, as requested by Pope Francis himself, and that each one carries “the wounds” of those who have suffered abuse by members of the Church, in their heart.

A global response

Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ is President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation and Moderator of the Vatican Meeting. During the Press Conference, he illustrated how the three days of discussion will each be devoted to a specific topic: “Responsibility, Accountability, and Transparency”. The 190 participants present in the Vatican Synod Hall will hear three reports a day, from Thursday through Saturday. Three of these will be given by women, and all nine interventions will be followed by a question and answer session. Participants will also be broken up into working groups according to language. There will be testimonies from survivors and moments of prayer, at the beginning and end of each day. Pope Francis will open the Meeting with an introductory speech on Thursday morning, and close it on Sunday with a discourse after Mass. The Eucharistic celebration will take place in the Sala Regia at 9.30 am and Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, will preach the homily.

A Penitential Liturgy will take place on Saturday afternoon, and will be broadcast live by Vatican News, as will the Mass on Sunday. According to Fr. Lombardi, members of the Organizing Committee will also meet privately with representatives of the victims and survivors’ associations.

Information on the Meeting

The official website of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting is and will remain active even after the Meeting is over, as a “tool for developing future initiatives”. Fr. Hans Zollner SJ is President of the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the contact person of the Organizing Committee. At the Press Conference, he illustrated the website, which he said will be updated regularly. Finally, Sr. Bernadette Reis, Assistant to the interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, presented the digital press kit that has been made available to support and assist journalists and media representatives with their work.

Courtesy of Vatican News

Holy See: McCarrick dismissed from the clerical state for abuse

The Holy See announces sanctions against former American Cardinal, Theodore Edgar McCarrick, including dismissal from the clerical state.

By Vatican News

The Holy Press Office has published a statement from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning the case of Theodore Edgar McCarrick.

The Congresso of the CDF, which investigated the accusations, has issued a decree finding McCarrick “guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power”.

The Congresso has imposed the penalty of “dismissal from the clerical state”.

The statement of the CDF notes that McCarrick’s appeal against this decision was considered on 13 February 2019 by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Having examined the arguments in the recourse”, the statement says, “the Ordinary Session confirmed the decree of the Congresso”. McCarrick was notified of the decision on 15 February 2019.

This decision, following the recognition by the Holy Father, is definitive and admits of no further recourse or appeal.

History of allegations

In September 2017, the Archdiocese of New York reported to the Holy See accusations against then-Cardinal McCarrick, for allegedly abusing a male teenager in the 1970’s.

Pope Francis ordered an in-depth investigation into the allegations, to be carried out by the Archdiocese of New York. At the conclusion of this inquiry, all relevant documentation was transmitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is charged with investigating cases of sexual abuse by the clergy.

The results of the New York Archdiocesan Review Board investigation, were announced by Cardinal Timothy Dolan in June 2018. The Board found that the allegations against McCarrick were “credible and substantiated”. In his statement, Cardinal Dolan announced that, at the direction of Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, had instructed McCarrick that he was “no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry”.

The statement also noted that McCarrick had cooperated with the investigation, and accepted the decision of the Holy See, while maintaining his innocence.

On the same day, the Diocese of Metuchen, and the Archdiocese of Newark, both in New Jersey, revealed that they were aware of past allegations of sexual misconduct by McCarrick, including two that had resulted in legal settlements.

Resignation from Cardinalate

In the weeks following the announcement of the initial allegations against McCarrick, news sources published further accusations of misconduct against adult seminarians, as well as additional accusations of abuse of minors.

On 28 July 2018, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, and “ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial”.

Commitment of the Holy See

On October 6, 2018, a statement of the Holy See strongly affirmed: “Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for Bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable”. The statement reiterates Pope Francis’ “pressing invitation” to “to unite forces to fight against the grave scourge of abuse within and beyond the Church, and to prevent such crimes from being committed in the future to the harm of the most innocent and most vulnerable in society”.

Ahead of the upcoming meeting in the Vatican of Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences of the world, set to take place from 21 to 24 February 2019, the statement emphasizes the words of Pope Francis in his Letter to the People of God: “the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within” (20 August 2018).

Letter of Cardinal Ouellet

On 7 October 2018, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, published an open letter in response to accusations by the former Papal Nuncio to Washington DC, concerning the McCarrick affair. In the letter, Cardinal Ouellet asks how it was possible that a man like McCarrick, could have been promoted on several occasions, to the point of being named Archbishop of Washington and being created a Cardinal. The letter notes that personnel decisions taken by popes are based on the best information available at the time and constitute prudential judgments that are not infallible. Cardinal Ouellet also points out how skillfully McCarrick defended himself against the allegations raised in his regard, and notes that, once real evidence became available, strong decisions were taken.

Cardinal Ouellet’s letter continues, stating how, during the pontificate of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, McCarrick was “strongly urged” not to travel and not to appear in public. McCarrick disregarded these instructions. Cardinal Ouellet clarifies that these directives were not “sanctions” imposed by Benedict XVI, and repudiates the suggestion that any sanctions were lifted by Pope Francis. He notes also that the present Holy Father “had nothing to do with McCarrick’s promotions in New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington”, and removed him from his dignity as a Cardinal when an accusation of abuse of a minor was deemed credible.


Theodore Edgar McCarrick, 88, was born in New York on 7 July 1930. He was ordained priest by Cardinal Francis Spellman on 31 May 1958. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York in May 1977 by Pope Saint Paul VI, and consecrated on 29 June 1977. Pope Saint John Paul II appointed him first Bishop of Metuchen (1981-1986), Metropolitan Archbishop of Newark (1986-2000), and Metropolitan Archbishop of Washington (2000-2006). On 21 February 2001 he was created Cardinal. McCarrick took part in the conclave of 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Full text of statement from the CDF:

On 11 January 2019, the Congresso of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the conclusion of a penal process, issued a decree finding Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power. The Congresso imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. On 13 February 2019, the Ordinary Session (Feria IV) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith considered the recourse he presented against this decision. Having examined the arguments in the recourse, the Ordinary Session confirmed the decree of the Congresso. This decision was notified to Theodore McCarrick on 15 February 2019. The Holy Father has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse).

Courtesy of Vatican News