Lay advisors want Vatican to release McCarrick files

Lay advisers to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) want the Holy See to be more open about former archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

They want the USCCB to ask for all the relevant documents and the results of diocesan and archdiocesan investigations about McCarrick to be released.

Both the National Advisory Council to the US Bishops (NAC) and the National Review Board (NRB), a lay advisory group to the US bishops on protecting minors from abuse, urged the bishops to press for the release of the documentation.

The “salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church,” they said.

“Care for your people must be at the forefront when dealing with this issue.”

The 13-member NRB was constituted by the USCCB in 2002, after revelations of the sexual abuse of minors by clerics that spanned decades and which occurred around the country.

The board advises the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The NAC meets ahead of the bishops’ biannual meetings and considers their agenda for the meetings, offering support or criticism of each agenda item.

Besides calling for the publication of the McCarrick documents, both advisory bodies expressed concern over the proposed USCCB directives for implementing Pope Francis’s motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi (You are the light of the world) as a response to the abuse crisis.

In particular, the Chair of the NAC said the motu proprio directives encourage the involvement of the laity by metropolitans when investigating sex abuse allegations of bishops, but do not require such involvement of lay experts.

Besides the possibility of leaving out qualified experts from investigations, it would give the “perception of bishops investigating bishops,” Raines said.

The Chair of the NRB had similar concerns.

“While the NRB commends the Holy See for taking such a strong step forward in terms of holding all clerics accountable for abuse, the Chair said the board “remains uncomfortable” with the model of metropolitans overseeing the investigations of abuse allegations against other bishops.

“Lay involvement is key to restoring the credibility of the Church,” he emphasized. Leaving them out of the investigation process “would signal a continuation of a culture of self-preservation that would suggest complicity.”

The NRB also wants the audit process contained in the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (2002) to be improved and expanded.

The Charter was drafted as a response to the national revelations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

The annual audit measures compliance with the charter’s protective and preventative measures.

“Now is the time to raise the bar on compliance to ensure the mistakes of the past are not completed,” the NRB Chair said.

Historically, bishops have expressed concerns about the expansion of the audit process, warning that “audit creep” could pose privacy risks and step on their authority as bishops to oversee the implementation of the charter.


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