System for reporting abuse complaints against bishops begins
WASHINGTON — A reporting system accepting sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. bishops and eparchs is in place.
Called the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, the system became operational Monday, March 16.
The mechanism incorporates a website, ReportBishopAbuse
The nationwide system is being implemented by individual dioceses under the direction of each respective cardinal, archbishop or bishop. The information gathered will be protected through enhanced encryption.
In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which in January 2019 implemented its own system for reporting allegations against bishops, Auxiliary Bishop Adam J. Parker said CBAR is similar in that it will be accessible from the archdiocesan home page and by phone.
Posters will be displayed at each parish promoting the national hotline as well as information about contacting the archdiocese’s Child and Youth Protection Office.
“Our intention was that the (nationwide) system — which we are implementing locally as a metropolitan — would be no less robust than what we had implemented here in Baltimore,” Bishop Parker said.
Denver-based Convercent developed the reporting system under a two-year contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The company specializes in ethics and compliance management for businesses and organizations.
Under the system, the company gathers information and routes reports to the appropriate church authority consistent with canon law. It does not conduct any investigation.
Approved by the U.S. bishops in June at their spring general assembly, the reporting mechanism meets the requirements established by Pope Francis in his “motu proprio” “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) to have a way of receiving reports of sexual misconduct by a bishop.
“Motu proprio” is a Latin phrase that means “on one’s own initiative.” Popes use it to signal a special personal interest in a subject.
The system works like this:
g Calls initially will come into a central phone bank, where trained personnel will ask for information about the allegation being made including the name of the person making the report and his or her contact information. People also will have the option of filing a report online if they do not want to call. People will not be required to give their name if they wish to remain anonymous.
g The information gathered will be forwarded to the appropriate metropolitan, or archbishop, responsible for each diocese in a province. (Archbishop Lori is the metropolitan for the Diocese of Richmond). Allegations against a metropolitan will be forwarded to the senior suffragan bishop in the appropriate province. The U.S. has 32 metropolitans. Each province has one archdiocese and several dioceses.
g The information also will be forwarded to a layperson designated to assist the bishop in receiving allegations.
g After review, the metropolitan or senior suffragan will send the report the apostolic nuncio in Washington.
g The nuncio is required to send the report and the metropolitan’s assessment to the Vatican, which has 30 days to determine if a formal investigation is warranted. If so, a bishop will be authorized to oversee an investigation.
g When an investigation is ordered, qualified experts, including laypeople will conduct it. An investigation is expected to be completed within 90 days and forwarded to the Vatican.
g Vatican officials will review the findings of the investigation and determine the appropriate process leading to a final judgment."