Roman Catholic dioceses in four New England states have launched an independent third-party system to report misconduct by bishops related to sexual abuse or any cover-up of clergy abuse.
The bishops of the Boston Province agreed to join a program already established by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston through an independent EthicsPoint website. The Boston Province includes the Archdiocese of Boston; Diocese of Fall River; Diocese of Worcester; Diocese of Springfield; Diocese of Burlington, Vt.; Diocese of Manchester, N.H.; and the Diocese of Portland, Maine.
The late Thomas L. Dupre, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States to be indicted on a sexual-abuse claim, resigned as Springfield bishop in February 2004, a day after The Republican confronted him with allegations that he had abused two young men. More recently, allegations have surfaced that late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon abused a man decades ago. Retired Judge Peter Velis is leading a diocesan probe into the allegations against Weldon.
The Boston Province bishops agreed to make a reporting system available now in the wake of Pope Francis’ Vos Estis Lux Mundi letter on clergy sexual abuse.
“I am grateful to Cardinal O’Malley for his leadership in implementing this important facet of Vos Estis Lux Mundi here in the Boston Province,” said the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, bishop of the Springfield diocese, in a statement on Wednesday. “This is an important step in assuring accountability for bishops in continuing to be vigilant in our church for the safe environment of all our members, particularly our most vulnerable.”
Pope Francis announced measures to respond to the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the church. He is requiring all dioceses in every country to establish a public, accessible and reliable system for reporting crimes of clergy sexual abuse and any cover-up of abuse by May 31, 2020.
He ordered the establishment of new procedural norms for investigating crimes by bishops, including both allegations of sexual abuse and any cover up by way of actions or omissions intended to conceal information or to interfere with investigations.