Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s proposal to impanel a committee of bishops to investigate mounting allegations and evidence of systemic problems concerning the handling of sexual misconduct within the ranks of the U.S. bishops is being rejected––by esteemed laity as well as a fellow bishop.
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany just issued a statement in reaction to Cardinal Wuerl’s proposal:
While I am heartened by my brother bishops proposing ways for our Church to take action in light of recent revelations – and I agree that a national panel should be commissioned, duly approved by the Holy See – I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer. To have credibility, a panel would have to be separated from any source of power whose trustworthiness might potentially be compromised.
It is time for us, I believe, to call forth the talents and charisms of our lay faithful, by virtue of their baptismal priesthood. Our lay people are not only willing to take on this much-needed role, but they are eager to help us make lasting reforms that will restore a level of trust that has been shattered yet again. In speaking with them, we all hear their passion for our universal Church, their devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and their hunger for the truth. They are essential to the solution we seek.
The Cardinal’s Proposal
Wuerl’s proposal was made amid the ongoing, increasingly scandal-ridden handling of the disgraced former Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual predation.
“I think it’s very important that we … as bishops enter into that world and say, ‘If there is an accumulation of rumors, ought not something be said?’” Cardinal Wuerl told the National Catholic Reporter in a telephone interview.
“Would we have some sort of a panel, a board, of bishops … where we would take it upon ourselves, or a number of bishops would be deputed, to ask about those rumors?” wondered the Cardinal. “It seems to me that’s one possibility, that there would be some way for the bishops, and that would mean working through our conference … to be able to address the question of sustained rumors.”
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