Ann Gerard-Flynn, At Vatican, Cardinal O’Malley raises issue of bishop accountability in reporting sexual abuse, though Chilean bishop remains, Mass Live

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston has reportedly made known to Pope Francis, in the guise of bishop accountability, the concerns of members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors over the pope’s appointment of a Chilean bishop who has been accused of covering up abuse.

Clergy sexual abuse survivor Marie Collins, who will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 National Assembly of the Voice of the Faithful in Hartford on April 18, was one of three members who flew to Rome over the weekend to meet with O’Malley. O’Malley heads the Vatican commission and was in Rome for a meeting of the Council of Cardinals that advises the pope on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy.

According to the Catholic news website CruxNow, O’Malley spoke with both Francis and the council on the accountability of bishops who fail to report sexual abuse.

Francis met with six survivors of church sexual abuse last summer, asking their forgiveness for the actions of pedophile priests, and saying in a homily that “all bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.”

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi is reported as telling the National Catholic Reporter that the cardinals have put the issue “on the table” after being presented with it by O’Malley. Lombardi is quoted as saying the cardinals’ “intention is now to find a way to proceed in the deepening of the competence in these cases.” Lombardi’s quotes in NCR do not directly mention the Chilean bishop whose appointment the Vatican has defended despite weeks of demonstrations and protest in Chile.

While the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has enacted its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People to provide guidelines for reporting abuse and maintaining a safe environment, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has called upon Francis to keep children safe by “firing the bishops who have been complicit and who are transferring predators.”

Francis appointed Bishop Juan Barros Madrid in January. Barros is not accused of molesting children, but of covering up the actions of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a once prominent charismatic priest in Chile, who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for sexually abusing minors. Barros has denied the allegations.

In the appointment, Voices of the Faithful, whose mission includes support for survivors of clergy abuse, said “Francis appears to be going back on his word to hold bishops accountable for covering up clergy sexual abuse.”

Other participants in Saturday conference include the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a long time advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse and a former canon lawyer for the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C.


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