WASHINGTON (October 23, 2002) -– Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced today, together with the Holy See, the membership of the mixed commission appointed to engage in further reflection on and revision of the "Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy or Other Church Personnel" and the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" voted by the USCCB at its semi-annual meeting last June and submitted to the Holy See for a recognitio (formal approval).
The names of the four representatives from the dicasteries (offices) of the Holy See having direct competence in the matter are:
- Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy;
- Archbishop Julian Herranz, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts;
- Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
- Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, Secretary for the Congregation for Bishops.
Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago. Cardinal George, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was ordained a priest on December 21, 1963. He has served as chair of the department of philosophy of Creighton University, Omaha, provincial superior of the Central U.S. Province of the Oblates, and as Vicar General of the community, serving in Rome. He holds doctorates in American philosophy (Tulane) and theology (Urbanianum, Rome). Cardinal George was named bishop of Yakima in 1990 and archbishop of Portland in Oregon in 1996 before being appointed archbishop of Chicago in 1997.
Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco. Archbishop Levada was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on December 20, 1961, in Rome where he was studying. After parochial assignments, he served as a theology professor at St. John"s Seminary, Camarillo, California, as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and as executive director of the California State Catholic Conference. Archbishop Levada holds a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome. He was ordained auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 1983 and named archbishop of Portland in Oregon in 1986, becoming archbishop of San Francisco in 1995.
Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford. Bishop Doran was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rockford on December 20, 1961, in Rome where he was studying. In the Diocese of Rockford, he served in several capacities in the administrative, judicial and pastoral areas. He returned to Rome to complete a doctorate in canon law at the Gregorian University. In 1986, he was appointed a Prelate Auditor of the Roman Rota. In 2000 he was appointed to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He was named bishop of Rockford on April 19, 1994 and ordained on June 24, 1994.
Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport. Bishop Lori was ordained on May 14, 1977, for the Archdiocese of Washington. After parochial experience, he earned a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of America in 1982, after which he became secretary and theologian to Cardinal James Hickey, archbishop of Washington. He also served as director of the archdiocesan commission on ecumenical and interreligious affairs. He was chancellor, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese. Named auxiliary bishop of Washington in 1995, he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport on January 23, 2001.
In a letter to Bishop Gregory early last week, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, expressed the complete solidarity of the Holy See with the Bishops of the United States in condemning the sexual abuse that has occurred within dioceses and eparchies (dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Church). The letter also acknowledged the bishops" efforts to address these difficult problems, recognizing in particular the central role of the Charter and the Norms in their work towards protecting minors and avoiding future recurrences of these abuses.
The Holy See also asked for the establishment of the mixed commission to examine those parts of the two documents that it believes need further discussion and greater precision to avoid misinterpretation and be in full accord with the universal law of the Church.
Three areas identified in particular are:
" Provisions for action called for in the documents that Cardinal Re described in his letter as "difficult to reconcile with the universal law of the Church" and which, therefore, "can be the source of confusion and ambiguity." An example would be the proper role of the review boards to be established in each of the dioceses and eparchies, as these are described in Article 2 of the Charter and Articles 4 and 5 of the Norms.
" Some of the language that has been used in these two documents, because, as Cardinal Re wrote, "the experience of the last few months has shown that the terminology of these documents is at times vague or imprecise and therefore difficult to interpret." An example would be the use of the term "sexual abuse" which appears in Article 5 of the Charter and is defined in a footnote to that document.
" Further specification of "the concrete manner in which the procedures outlined in the Norms and the Charter are to be applied in conjunction with the requirements of the Code of Canon Law and the Motu proprio, Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela..." An example would be the procedures for dealing with a priest who is known to have abused a minor. These procedures are identified in Article 5 of the Charter and Articles 7-12 of the Norms.
In announcing the Holy See"s decision to have a mixed commission, Bishop Gregory said in an October 18 statement, "The purpose of the Commission is to bring the best wisdom of the Holy See and our Episcopal Conference to a discussion of these issues. Our goal is to finish our work in time for the results to be presented to our Episcopal Conference at our Plenary Assembly next month [November 11-14], and this effort will be a fully collaborative work."
Quoting one Cardinal Prefect as having told him to stress that the task ahead will be to exercise "deep communion" in order to achieve "common agreement," Bishop Gregory said that this comment "describes perfectly the spirit that has been communicated to me during the past several months in my communications with the Holy See. The Officials of the Roman Curia who have been involved with me in discussions on this matter, particularly this week, have shown great pastoral care in their sensitivity to the pain caused to victims, their commitment to the need to protect society from perpetrators of abuse, their regard for the respect that needs to be shown for the rights of the accused, and their pain at the anguish caused to faithful Catholics by this sinful and criminal conduct. I am deeply grateful to the Officials of the Curia for their fraternal solicitude, their counsel and their encouragement.
"Above all," Bishop Gregory continued, "the Bishops of the United States are grateful beyond words to the Holy Father for strengthening his brothers in this time of trial. His address last April to the Cardinals of the United States and the Officers of our Conference gave us the inspiration that was needed to work toward a solution to this crisis in Dallas last June."
Bishop Gregory closed his statement by saying that "I am fully confident that the inspiration of the Mixed Commission will provide us with the guidance to bring this work to completion."