As the U.S. bishops prepare to meet next week for their general assembly in Baltimore, they must be hoping it won’t be a repeat of this one.
The bishops were hoping to finalize a tough new policy on child sex abuse and – even more importantly – abuse cover-up, after the Vatican put a halt on the issue during the USCCB’s fall assembly last year. Since then, there has been a Vatican abuse summit and new legislation from the Vatican to battle abuse and cover-up, meaning the possibility of a “good news” ending to the meeting was in the cards. But now new scandals are likely to overshadow the meeting. At the beginning of this week, the Associated Press published a story about a woman accusing a top official in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston of sexual misconduct. This story was followed by a Washington Post report on a confidential investigation into impropriety under Bishop Michael Bransfield in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. On Thursday, Crux came out with a story about how various Church institutions passed the buck when a seminarian complained about sexual abuse at the national seminary in Washington, DC.