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Catholic Whistleblowers Steering Committee

c/o Reverend James E. Connell, J.C.D.


2462 North Prospect Avenue #204
Milwaukee, WI 53211
connell.james951@gmail.com
414-940-8054

April 1, 2018
Easter Sunday and the beginning of National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo


President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20017-1194

Re.: Challenge the USCCB to rebuild trust by revising the Charter


and the Essential Norms

Dear Cardinal DiNardo,

The crisis and scandal in the Catholic Church caused by clergy sexual abuse of minors and of
vulnerable adults continues, and trust in the bishops remains damaged. Hence and in an effort
to address this reality, we, members of the Catholic Whistleblowers Steering Committee,
contend that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the related
Essential Norms need substantial revisions.

In addition, we contend that people who suffer because of the crisis, victims / survivors of
clergy sexual abuse, people in the pews, and the society at-large, must have an active voice in
the revision process.

Furthermore, we maintain that the revision effort should be co-chaired by a victim / survivor of
clergy sexual abuse and by the bishop who serves as the chair of the USCCB Committee for the
Protection of Children and Young People.

Also, in the interest of transparency that can help to rebuild trust, all drafts of any revision of
the Charter or of the Essential Norms should be widely publicized seeking extensive public
discussion and welcoming input before any decision is made.

Below are some of the topics to be included in the revisions of the Charter and of the Essential
Norms.

First, a commitment by the USCCB to work with state legislators in the 50 states to reform
statutes of limitations so that no case of sexual abuse of a minor or of a vulnerable adult can be
barred from a court process because of a failure to report the abuse within a prescribed time
frame. Such statutory reform would help to protect all minors and vulnerable adults, not just
Catholic ones, from sexual abuse, while also helping to protect their moral right to reparation.

Second, a commitment by the USCCB to hold to a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse
of a minor or of a vulnerable adult by a cleric, a religious, or a church employee. Thus, this
policy would apply to bishops, including those who are complicit with any such crime.

Third, a commitment by the USCCB to expand the scope of the Charter. Currently, it applies
only to diocesan priests and deacons (the text of the Charter makes no mention of pertinent clergy other
than priests and deacons attached to a diocese). But, it also should include all priests and deacons who
are members of some form of a clerical religious order. This fuller scope is the current scope of
the Essential Norms (see end note #1 of the Essential Norms). Approximately one-third of the priests
authorized to function as priests by diocesan bishops in the United States are members of such
clerical religious orders. They also should be covered by the Charter. Likewise, the Charter and
the Essential Norms should apply to all bishops.

Fourth, a commitment by the USCCB to apply the Charter and the Essential Norms to all non-
ordained women and men who are members of some form of a religious community that
operates in the United States with the permission of a diocesan bishop.

Fifth, a commitment by the USCCB that all priests and deacons, along with all non-ordained
women and men, regardless their diocesan or religious community affiliation, who are currently
or ever have served in a diocese and against whom there is a substantiated allegation of sexual
abuse of a minor or of a vulnerable adult will be named as such on the diocese’s website.

Sixth, a commitment by the USCCB to redefine the term “vulnerable adult” so that a person
who temporarily (= not habitually) lacks the use of reason because of the presence of alcohol,
drugs, or overpowering intimidation by the abuser would be considered equivalent to a minor.

Seventh, a commitment by the USCCB to revise the Charter audit process so that independent
auditors:
(a) Audit compliance with the Essential Norms in addition to compliance with the Charter;
(b) Verify that all cases of alleged sexual abuse of a minor or of a vulnerable adult are handled
promptly and that those cases that are required by church law to be submitted to the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith actually are submitted to that Congregation; and
(c) Conduct compulsory on-site parish and school Charter compliance reviews thus recognizing
that the minors and vulnerable adults who are to be protected are found in parishes and
schools, not in diocesan offices.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
/s/
Reverend James E. Connell, J.C.D.
A priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Other members of the Catholic Whistleblowers Steering Committee who endorse this letter are:

Sr. Sally Butler, OP (Brooklyn, NY); Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., (West Orange, NJ); Rev. Ronald
D. Lemmert (Peekskill, NY); Helen Rainforth, (Lincoln, IL); Sr. Claire Smith, OSU (Bronx, NY); Sr.
Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN (New Castle, DE)

cc.: Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States


Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Members of the news media