Since the McCarrick scandal broke this summer, the collective Catholic faithful of the United States have been engaged in a tense conversation with their shepherds. From many of the bishops’ remarks at this month’s annual gathering in Baltimore, they have clearly heard what the faithful have been crying out for.
Despite the fact that the Holy See directed that the bishops not vote on the USCCB’s main agenda item — reviewing a “Code of Conduct” for bishops and the establishment of a body, including laypeople, to review charges against them, many of our shepherds sound like they are committed to purification and reparation from Church leadership. This instinct revealed itself through palpable frustration with the Vatican-initiated delay in dealing with the crisis until after a February 2019 meeting at the Vatican.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said shortly after announcing the delay, “We remain committed to the program of episcopal accountability. Votes will not take place, but we will move forward.” Those sentiments were echoed both publicly and privately by other bishops, as well. Cardinal DiNardo also strongly stated, “To exempt ourselves from these high standards of accountability (zero tolerance) is unacceptable and cannot stand.”
Make no mistake: There are bishops who either still do not want to acknowledge the gravity of this crisis or who seem to favor alternatives that do not deliver the kind of full transparency and accountability that the Catholic faithful have been calling for.
Regardless, we must continue to demand justice for victims and accountability from our leaders. We must continue to demand that the issues that caused this situation in the first place are rooted out once and for all. And we all must pray that our bishops carry their resolve to respond to the crisis from Baltimore to the Vatican next February. True healing for our Church depends on it.