The Diocese of Allentown has joined dioceses around the nation in implementing the new Catholic Abuse Reporting Service, another important step in addressing the clergy abuse crisis and the accountability of bishops.
The system will enable anyone to report an allegation of abuse against a bishop. Reports will be taken by an independent company, and investigated by both Church officials and lay people.
“I welcome this as another step in seeking to repair the public’s confidence in our Church and in its ability to deal thoroughly and responsibly with the terrible crisis of clergy sexual abuse,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, who issued his own personal pledge of accountability in November 2018.
In May 2019, Pope Francis released his apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”) to address the issue of sexual abuse and holding bishops accountable in the global Catholic Church.
In June 2019, one month after Pope Francis issued his order, the bishops of the United States convened for their general assembly in Baltimore and approved the implementation plan for carrying out the directives of the Holy Father here in the United States.
It was because of the ongoing commitment of American bishops to be held accountable that the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service was established. It is operated by Convercent, Inc., an independent, third-party entity that provides intake service to private institutions through a secure and confidential process.
When a report is received by the third-party system, it will be forwarded to the supervising archbishop of the region. In the case of Pennsylvania, that is Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Perez. The report is at the same time forwarded to a layperson (someone who is not a priest or bishop) who has been designated to assist in receiving reports.
If the report involves abuse of a minor, it also will be forwarded to law enforcement.
Following review and an initial assessment, the allegation then will be sent to the Apostolic Nuncio, the Pope’s ambassador in the United States, who will forward it to the appropriate authority at the Vatican. Within 30 days, the Vatican will assess the report and if warranted, authorize a formal investigation.
Anyone who needs to report an allegation of sexual abuse or related misconduct against any bishop should go to www.ReportBishopAbuse.org or call, toll-free, (800) 276-1562.
The service is intended to be used only for reporting allegations of abuse concerning Bishops. It is not intended to be used for the reporting of other local concerns about bishops, such as priests’ parish assignments, closure of schools or parishes, or liturgical concerns.