As part of an ongoing commitment to carry out Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter (Vos estis lux mundi) to address the issue of sexual abuse throughout the Catholic Church, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) was established in March 2020 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Individuals may go to ReportBishopAbuse.org in order to make a report. Reports are also accepted via (800) 276-1562. This service does not replace proper reporting to civil authorities. Anyone who suspects that a crime has been committed is urged to call law enforcement.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service is operated by Convercent, Inc. an independent, third-party entity that provides intake services to private institutions for reports of sensitive topics such as sexual harassment through a secure, confidential, and professional platform. The service is for individuals to relay to Church authorities any reports of a U.S. Catholic bishop who has:
- forced someone to perform or to submit to sexual acts
- through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
- performed sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person;
- produced, exhibited, possessed, or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a
- minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
- or, a diocesan or eparchial bishop, or a cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of
- a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who has intentionally interfered with a civil or church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious
In May 2019, Pope Francis released his apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) to address the issue of sexual abuse and bishop accountability in the global Catholic Church. Vos estis calls upon metropolitan archbishops, in conjunction with a non-ordained representative of the Church, to undertake the responsibilities for receiving and assessing reports involving bishops that pertain to sexual abuse and related misconduct. The reports are sent to the Vatican for their review and to determine what disciplinary actions may be needed.
Archbishop Tomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami is the metropolitan who presides over this province of Florida, which includes the Diocese of St. Petersburg. In the event that a report is received that concerns Archbishop Wenski, then it will be forwarded to Bishop Gerald Barberito, who is next in line to address the concern.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) does not replace existing reporting systems for allegations of abuse against priests, deacons, religious or laity. CBAR was designed to respond only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct.
The reporting of sexual misconduct by anyone in diocesan ministry who is not a bishop, such as priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, or lay persons working or volunteering for the Church should continue to be handled in accordance with the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s Policy for the Protection of Youth and Vulnerable Adults and with proper civil authorities. For more information on the reporting service and how it works, please visit: ReportBishopAbuse.org.