Father Dave discusses Pope Francis’ homily from the recent bishops’ summit on clergy abuse and explains the policies and procedures of the Dallas Charter.
Father Dave points out that Pope Francis’ remarks at the Summit for the Protection of Minors in the Church call for concrete steps to move forward and prevent abuse. “The bishops not only heard the cries of victims, but they did hear from some places around the world,” Father Dave explains. “The United States was one of these places that shared some of the procedures we put into place since 2002 when the Dallas Charter first came into effect. And there certainly has been critique of the Dallas Charter, that the bishops didn’t police themselves enough, and the call for that is to be strengthened and for more transparency and accountability from bishops.”
“We sort of shared some of the best practices, if you will. And looking at statistics where it actually has worked. There have been a lot fewer instances of abuse, of course zero would be ideal, but there are fewer of these instances because of these procedures … Every priest, and lay people and others who work with children as well, but certainly priests have to be vetted and get background checks, even when we go to a different diocese. Every time I go to a speaking engagement in a different diocese, the bishop of that diocese says there needs to be a letter from my bishop or religious superior that says, ‘There is no credible accusation against this guy. We’ve done background checks and I can attest that this person is clear from these things.’ A lot of the problems stemmed from, not only particular priests that were predators, but the ways in which this sort of thing wasn’t done. A bishop would want to get rid of a guy and maybe put him in another diocese without telling them, and really what we have put into place goes very far to the other side of the scale.”
“In many diocese it’s referred to as safe environmental practices. Everything down to if there are adults in a room with a children, what’s the ratio? There always has to be two adults … whereas back in the day there wasn’t all of these things … I’m not going to say we’ve hit a home run and everything is perfect, but there’s a lot less opportunity for abuse to happen, just because of some basic procedures that you would do anywhere, like in schools.”
“Cardinal Dinardo released a statement saying that we need to intensify the Dallas Charter and make more people accountable, including bishops. He talked about not only the abuse of children, but the abuse of power … After this summit they’ve sent people back to their diocese and explained that they need to start putting something similar into effect.” (Original Air 2-25-19)