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Press Release

ARCC to Vatican: Leave Us Alone

October 18, 2002

It took an international scandal in the priesthood for the Vatican to begin paying attention to the concept of Due Process, as seen in its rejection of the Dallas charter on clergy sex abuse. ARCC welcomes this effort by the Church’s leaders in this important area of human rights. We urge these leaders to extend the eventual norms for due process to all areas of Church life.

The appointment by the Vatican of a “mixed commission” to review the Charter drafted by the United States’ Bishops is a disappointment.The eight positions on this commission are to be staffed by bishops. There is not a layperson in sight. ARCC has consistently urged that laywomen and men be appointed to all commissions dealing with the sex abuse scandal. If the Vatican will not lead the way in this exercise of equality and collegiality, why should the bishops of the world?

A major flaw in the original Dallas charter was the lack of acknowledgement of the culpability of bishops who have covered up the crimes of the convicted abusers. The Vatican response also ignores this serious situation. 

We regret that the bishops of the United States feel that they must go hat in hand to the Vatican to get “approval” for a policy to be implemented in the local church.Once the formation of sound commissions in each diocese takes place, ARCC considers that the Catholic Church in the United States is quite capable of handling this affair. This is called subsidiarity. In addition, given the growing evidence of habitual cover-up of abuse throughout the universal church, ARCC urges the Vatican to direct every diocese worldwide to establish a sex-abuse commission consisting of both non-ordained and ordained. 

The victims of convicted pedophiles are owed justice at every level. This must happen without delay. At the same time the rights of accused priests must not be violated.ARCC urges the bishops of the United States to take the recommendations of the Vatican under advisement, consider the criticisms of the Catholics of the United States and then come together at the next general meeting in November to clean up the Charter so that it is a true reflection of the wisdom of all the People of God.

For further contact: 

Mary Louise Hartman 
President 609-921-9134     
John Sheehan
National Coordinator 413-527-9929

ARCC is a 501-c3 non-profit international organization dedicated to achieving substantive structural change in the Roman Catholic Church.  It works to implement an identified body of rights that every Catholic has from Baptism and membership in the human community.  ARCC works for a more collegial church structure, which affirms these rights through accountability and shared decision-making. 

Link to USCCB Website of June 2002 Bishops' Meeting

Other voices

Another Voice

Questions From a Ewe

Challenges Facing Catholicism
(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

Ingrid H. Shafer, Ph.D.
e-mail address: ihs@ionet.net
Posted 18 October 2002
Last updated 31 October 2002
Electronic version copyright © 2002 Ingrid H. Shafer
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