Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens Reflect on USCCB Fall General Assembly

From Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda:

“I was grateful for the honest discussions that took place on the floor of the USCCB meetings and for what I perceived as a consensus that every bishop should be held accountable for his actions and that the successful investigation and evaluation of any allegations against bishops would require lay leadership and review.   Nonetheless, with many of the bishops, I was frustrated that we were not able to take the decisive action at this time that the situation seems to require.  I am confident that the bishops will use well the additional time that we now have to sharpen our proposals.”

From Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens:

“Although the meeting certainly did not accomplish what I and many other bishops had hoped, there were many positive things that became clear.  The firm resolve which the US Bishops expressed in their desire to do something concrete about accountability for bishops is very strong.  And there is wide support for the principles upon which we must do it.  There must be some sort of lay commission to investigate and make recommendations about accusations of misconduct against bishops.  In addition a special task force was put together by the conference president to begin working on this, in particular preparing concrete options for the bishops as we go forward.  The work is going ahead, even though we could not take a definite vote.  There is also now the possibility to contribute to the international conversation, as Cardinal DiNardo prepares for the meeting of the presidents of the episcopal conferences of the whole world in February.  As we know from past experience when we developed the Charter for the Protection of Young People in 2002, at first Rome was resistant to the ideas therein, but eventually they saw their wisdom and much of the Charter became law for the universal Church.  There is great hope that this will happen again, especially since the conviction of the need is so deep in the bishops of the United States.  I’m convinced they will not give up until we see the kind of culture change needed.  This is echoed in Cardinal DiNardo’s closing statement, which is worth reading.  He points out ‘we will take the strongest possible action, at the soonest possible moment.’  The ability to be together in the midst of this difficulty was very important for strengthening the resolve of the bishops with whom I spoke.”