By Linda Bordoni
The 3-day “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting, called by Pope Francis to examine procedures to be put in place to enforce responsibility, accountability and transparency in the Church, is in its second day in the Vatican.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, delivered his presentation entitled “Synodality: Jointly Responsible” on the day dedicated to the theme of “Accountability.”
Reflecting on the current exercise in collegiality highlighted by the meeting, he said the bishops must also consider the challenge in the light of synodality, “especially as we explore with the entire Church the structural, legal and institutional aspects of accountability”.
Synodality, Cardinal Cupich explained, “represents the participation of all the baptized at every level - in parishes, dioceses, national and regional ecclesial bodies - in a discernment and reform that penetrates throughout the Church”.
He said this is vital to the Church in this moment, and it’s what will “give rise to the elements of truth, penitence and renewal of cultures that are essential to fulfilling the mandate of protecting the young within the Church, and in turn within the larger society”.
Cardinal Cupich said that a process that merely changes policies, “even if it is the fruit of the finest acts of collegiality, is not enough”.
He called for the conversion of men and women throughout the entire Church, and for the conversion of ecclesial cultures on every continent, saying that “Only a synodal vision, rooted in discernment, conversion and reform at every level can bring to the Church the comprehensive action in the defense of the most vulnerable in our midst to which God’s grace is calling us”.
Cardinal Cupich proceeded to reflect on a number of points including the need for a structural legal and institutional reform. He spoke of the role of the laity, the need for listening and accompaniment, but he also highlighted the role of the Church as that of a loving mother and compared the “sacred bond” between a parent with a child to that of the Church with its flock.
“Mothers and fathers have called us to account, for they simply cannot comprehend how we as bishops and religious superiors have often been blinded to the scope and damage of sexual abuse of minors. They are witnessing to dual realities that must be pursued in our church today: an unceasing effort to eradicate clergy sexual abuse in the church, and a rejection of the clerical culture which so often bred that abuse”, he said.
The Cardinal did not shy away from looking to the task ahead and he presented a framework for Institutional and Legal Structures for Accountability focusing on three different aspects: “Setting Standards for Investigation of Bishops”, “Reporting Allegations” and “Concrete Procedural Steps”.
Cardinal Cupich concluded observing that “What remains to be enacted are clear procedures in cases which for “grave reasons” could justify the removal from office of a bishop, eparch or religious superior as defined in the motu proprio “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” and the motu proprio, “Come una madre amorevole” (“As a loving mother”) and he urged his brother bishops to move to establish robust laws and structures regarding the accountability of bishops precisely to supply with a new soul the institutional reality of the Church’s discipline on sexual abuse.
For more information on the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church and for Cardinal Cupich’s full presentation www.pbc2019.org