Monday, Mar 16, 2020

ReportBishopAbuse.org created to receive, relay reports of sexual abuse/related misconduct by bishops to proper authorities for investigation

NOTE: The following is a press release from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today announced the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) Service has been established to receive reports of sexual abuse and related misconduct by bishops, and to relay those reports to proper authorities for investigation. This is the latest measure from Pope Francis’ apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) to be implemented.

The website is ReportBishopAbuse.org.

“As the Holy Father emphasized during the Summit of February 2019, the way forward for bishops in promoting safe environments for minors and vulnerable adults has to be marked by responsibility, accountability and transparency. This reporting system is a major step in advancing that agenda, particularly with the involvement of lay experts,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. 

CBAR Service allows 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.

CBAR 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. Individuals can make reports at ReportBishopAbuse.org or by calling 800.276.1562. The service does not replace existing reporting systems for complaints against priests, deacons, religious or laity. It is designed to respond only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct.

When a report is received, it will be forwarded to the local metropolitan archbishop who will undertake the responsibility of initially assessing the report. The report will also be simultaneously sent to a lay expert. Cardinal Cupich is the metropolitan of the Illinois province which includes the following dioceses: Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield. In the event that a report is received that concerns Cardinal Cupich, then it will be forwarded to Bishop Edward Braxton, who is the senior suffragan bishop, of the Diocese of Belleville, and to his lay expert.  

In May 2019, Pope Francis released Vos estis calling upon the metropolitan archbishops to undertake the responsibilities for receiving and assessing reports involving bishops that pertain to sexual abuse and related misconduct. In June 2019, the Catholic bishops of the United States convened for their general assembly in Baltimore and approved the implementation plan for carrying out the directives of the Holy Father here in the United States.

While the mandate by Pope Francis in Vos estis echoes many of the practices the Catholic Church in the United States has implemented since 2002 with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, this new order applies also to the bishops and to the worldwide Catholic Church, making clear the pope’s concern of the issue of sexual abuse in the Church at a global level.

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 Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Protection of Children and Youth and with proper civil authorities.

For more information on the reporting service and how it works, please visit: ReportBishopAbuse.org.