WASHINGTON — A reporting system accepting sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. bishops and eparchs is in place.
The Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, became operational March 16.
mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number
through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop.
The website is ReportBishopAbuse.org. Calls can be placed at (800) 276-1562.
nationwide system is being implemented by individual dioceses under the
direction of each respective cardinal, archbishop or bishop. The
information gathered will be protected through enhanced encryption.
the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which in January 2019 implemented its own
system for reporting allegations against bishops, Auxiliary Bishop Adam
J. Parker said CBAR is similar in that it will be accessible from the
archdiocesan home page and by phone.
Posters will be displayed at
each parish promoting the national hotline as well as information about
contacting the archdiocese’s Child and Youth Protection Office.
intention was that the (nationwide) system — which we are implementing
locally as a metropolitan — would be no less robust than what we had
implemented here in Baltimore,” Bishop Parker said.
Bishop John M.
Botean of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton, Ohio,
was set to post a notice on the diocesan website March 16 as the service
“I’ll have just a little explanation of what the service is,” he told Catholic News Service.
the Eastern-rite eparchies have no metropolitan archbishops, Bishop
Botean said he expects that reports filed through the new system will be
sent directly to the apostolic nuncio in Washington, Archbishop
Christophe Pierre, for review.
Bishop Botean welcomed the
reporting system as well. “It’s too bad that it’s come to this, but if
it’s necessary, here it is,” he said.
developed the reporting system under a two-year contract with the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops. The company specializes in ethics and
compliance management for businesses and organizations.
system, the company gathers information and routes reports to the
appropriate church authority consistent with canon law. It does not
conduct any investigation.
Approved by the U.S. bishops in June at
their spring general assembly, the reporting mechanism meets the
requirements established by Pope Francis in his “motu proprio” “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) to have a way of receiving reports of sexual misconduct by a bishop.
proprio” is a Latin phrase that means “on one’s own initiative.” Popes
use it to signal a special personal interest in a subject.
The system works like this:
Calls initially will come into a central phone bank, where trained
personnel will ask for information about the allegation being made
including the name of the person making the report and his or her
contact information. People also will have the option of filing a report
online if they do not want to call. People will not be required to give
their name if they wish to remain anonymous.
• The information
gathered will be forwarded to the appropriate metropolitan, or
archbishop, responsible for each diocese in a province. Allegations
against a metropolitan will be forwarded to the senior suffragan bishop
in the appropriate province. The U.S. has 32 metropolitans. Each
province has one archdiocese and several dioceses.
• The information also will be forwarded to a layperson designated to assist the bishop in receiving allegations.
• After review, the metropolitan or senior suffragan will send the report the apostolic nuncio in Washington.
The nuncio is required to send the report and the metropolitan’s
assessment to the Vatican, which has 30 days to determine if a formal
investigation is warranted. If so, a bishop will be authorized to
oversee an investigation.
• When an investigation is ordered
qualified experts, including laypeople will conduct it. An investigation
is expected to be completed within 90 days and forwarded to the
• Vatican officials will review the findings of the
investigation and determine the appropriate process leading to a final
As each case is filed, the person reporting an incident
will be given a case number and password which can be used to follow
progress of their particular case.
Individuals who file a report
also will be encouraged to contact local law enforcement if they believe
they have been a victim of a crime.
Anthony Picarello, USCCB
associate general secretary, told the bishops during their fall general
assembly in November the system is designed to filter complaints so that
only those addressed in the “motu proprio” will be forwarded.
CBAR, people with complaints about any other actions of a bishop, such
as diocesan assignments, church closings, liturgy or homily content,
will be asked to contact the appropriate diocese or eparchy directly.
of sexual abuse by a priest, deacon, religious, diocesan staff member
or volunteer, will be directed to the local diocesan or eparchial victim
assistance coordinator under the process that has been in place under
the 2002 “Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.”
Francis released his “motu proprio” last May following a worldwide
meeting of bishops’ conference leaders at the Vatican early in 2019 to
discuss the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse. The document
specifically addresses allegations of sexual misconduct and other
accusations of actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid
civil or church investigations of such misconduct by clergy.
“motu proprio” requires dioceses and eparchies worldwide to establish
“one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission
of reports” by May 31.