BALTIMORE, MD - Measures to address the priest sex abuse scandal in Roman Catholic Dioceses across the United States will not be voted on at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that started on Monday.
The announcement was made by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo at the start of the conference in Maryland.
The development means the Pope has intervened in initial efforts to address this crisis until March at the earliest. “At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on our two action items,” said DiNardo.
It appears most of the 196 Catholic Bishops invited to the gathering had not idea the announcement was coming.
2 On Your Side's Steve Brown is at the conference and was able to speak to Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone, who said he was disappointed about the delayed vote.
“I’m disappointed as well. This is the first time that I, and I’m pretty sure that most bishops, had heard of this change,” said Malone. “The Holy Father has called for a meeting February of all the Episcopal conferences around the world to address this issue." Malone went on to say, "Apparently, the Pope wants us to wait on any action here until all the conferences in the world have been involved in the discussion.”
The proposed changes were modest. One involved a non-clergy panel that would examine how Bishops handle sex abuse claims and recommend possible punishments. The other, a formal policy of how bishops should respond to a claim of abuse by clergy.
America’s bishops have been asked to wait on a vote for the items until after a February gathering of international leadership of the Catholic Church.
The delay is a bitter disappointment for Catholics eager for a demonstration of actual change in how abuse cases are resolved.
“We’ll tell our people we’re just going to keep pushing and moving until we get to a point where it becomes action. We are not ourselves happy about this. We are working very hard to move to action and we’ll do it,” said DiNardo.
Several dioceses, including Buffalo, are dealing with priest sex abuse scandals. The crisis in Buffalo has received the most attention as of late, following a 60 Minutes report in late October.
Several people, including a few priests, have called for Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone to resign. He has said on several occasions, including in a recent interview with Two On Your Side's Maryalice Demler, that he will not do so.
Bishop Malone has defended how he has handled the current crisis and said his record is good when it comes to cases involving children. He admits, he could have done more with cases involving adults.
In the spring, the Buffalo Diocese released a list of 42 priests accused of abuse. Following the 60 Minutes report, the diocese released an expanded list.
While there will be no action to address the priest sex abuse scandals facing some dioceses, the Bishop will be taking the rest of the day for prayer and penance.
“The first thing that will happen, and this may not satisfy some of our viewers, is today, we’ve never done this before, is exclusively a day of prayer and penance for all of the bishops," said Malone. “The first call to us as bishops is to grow in our own holiness and integrity. So we’re doing something unusual in that regard.”