CATHOLIC BISHOP ABUSE REPORTING SERVICE LAUNCHED TODAY
In May 2019, Pope Francis released his apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) to address the issue of sexual abuse and bishop accountability in the global Catholic Church. Vos estis calls upon the metropolitan archbishops to undertake the responsibilities for receiving and assessing reports involving bishops that pertain to sexual abuse and related misconduct. In June 2019, one month after Pope Francis issued his order, the Catholic bishops of the U.S. convened for their general assembly in Baltimore. As part of the ongoing commitment to carrying out Vos estis, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) was established offering a toll-free phone and online reporting service to receive reports regarding sexual abuse involving bishops.
“The bishops and the whole Church have confronted this issue of child sexual abuse for more than two decades now,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez. “It is a legacy of shame and sorrow for all of us. But with the help of courageous abuse survivors, and through the commitment of lay professionals and volunteers, the Church has made important reforms and put in place effective systems to protect young people and create safe environments in our parishes, schools and other ministries.”
“This new system we announced today continues our efforts to prevent abuse, to protect the vulnerable, and it represents the bishops’ commitment to hold ourselves to the highest standards of accountability before God and before the whole family of God,” added Archbishop Gomez.
Reports to the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) may be made by calling (800) 276-1562 or visiting reportbishopabuse.org. This information is also available at lacatholics.org/abuse-hotline.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles will share additional resources to help promote the new reporting phone line and website to our community of faith, when COVID-19 (coronavirus) is no longer a public health threat and our parishes, schools and ministries return to normal operations.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service allows for individuals to relay to Church authorities any reports of a U.S. Catholic bishop who has:
- forced someone to perform or to submit to sexual acts through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
- performed sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person;
- produced, exhibited, possessed, or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
- or, a diocesan or eparchial bishop, or a cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who has intentionally interfered with a civil or church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious.
Reports received are forwarded to the appropriate Metropolitan and designated lay person– together they review the allegation and promptly forward it to the Apostolic Nuncio who then informs the Holy See and requests direction as to next steps. Whenever a report includes a crime, such as the sexual abuse of a minor, it will also be reported to civil authorities. In those cases where reports to civil authorities are required, Church officials will suspend any canonical action in deference to an investigation being conducted by civil authorities when they so request.
In the event that a report is received that concerns the local metropolitan, then it will be forwarded to the senior suffragan bishop of this local province. Archbishop José H. Gomez is the local metropolitan and Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino is the senior suffragan our local province.
The toll-free phone and online reporting service is independently operated by Convercent Inc., a third-party entity that provides intake services to private institutions for reports of sensitive topics such as sexual harassment through a secure, confidential, and professional platform. Convercent does not conduct the investigation into the potential allegations. Only those Church officials delegated with authority by the Holy See can conduct a Church investigation of a bishop.
Sexual abuse by a priest, deacon or a staff member or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles should be reported to the Office of Victim Assistance at (800) 355-2545 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are the victim of sexual abuse (or any other crime), please contact local law enforcement.
Since 2002, the Archdiocese has established strict policies and protocols on reporting abuse and protection of minors:
- The allegation is reported to law enforcement, and the Archdiocese cooperates fully with the investigation.
- The accused priest or layperson is immediately removed from ministry pending the result of the investigation.
- Parishes or schools where the accused is serving or has served are notified.
- In cases where the Statute of Limitations does not allow for criminal prosecution, retired FBI investigators retained by the Archdiocese investigate the matter and report to the Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board which makes final recommendations.
The Archdiocese has also instituted abuse prevention and reporting programs for adults and minors; fingerprinting and background checks for employees and volunteers at parishes and schools; and clergy formation programs to prevent abuse. Since these programs were established 17 years ago, more than 375,000 adults have been trained in abuse prevention and reporting; 1.5 million Catholic school students have received age appropriate training that teaches them to understand appropriate and inappropriate boundaries and gives them the tools that empower them to take action and report if they feel uncomfortable, scared or confused; and more than 200,000 adults have been fingerprinted and undergone background checks. For more information please visit https://protect.la-archdiocese.org/.
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