MADISON -- Bishop William H. Bullock has announced the Diocese of Madison's plan to implement the U.S. Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons.
The national oversight board established by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked all dioceses in the United States to be in conformity with the provisions set forth. The Diocese of Madison revealed its plan and announced its Sexual Abuse Review Board, assistance coordinator position, and how it will implement the Charter and Norms.
Bullock discusses the plans in his column in The Catholic Herald and in a letter to the priests and parishioners of the diocese. The bishop was at once clear and compassionate in outlining the ways in which all must address this issue: "The impact of the sexual abuse crisis has seriously shaken the trust of many within the Church. We, as Church, seeks ways to address this crisis in positive and on-going ways."
The names of the priests against whom allegations have been made and the amount of total dollars paid from the Diocese of Madison in past case settlements have been revealed. The bishop has assured the priests and people that no Diocesan Services Appeal dollars and no restricted or designated funds were used in the settlements.
"As a Diocese, as Church, we are truly committed to assist victims, to heal them, ourselves, and the larger Church," says the bishop. "There is no easy way to do this, but do it we must, and we will."
Following is the complete text:
Bishop Bullock's letter to priests and parishioners
February 17, 2003
Dear Father and Parishioners of the Diocese of Madison:
I invite you to share the pertinent parts of this Pastoral Clergy Bulletin with your parishioners. I have shared this total letter with our Communications Department and The Catholic Herald. There are several pastoral matters I wish to address in this letter as we prepare to celebrate Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2003. During Lent I urge all of us to enter deeply into the ancient penitential practices of fasting and almsgiving along with an intensified prayer life.
G.I.R.M.: The first item of my clergy letter is General Instruction of the Roman Missal authorized by the Holy See. We studied this document at our annual fall assembly in October this past year. We are now ready to begin its implementation.
I have a cover letter to go along with the full document (copies of which you received last fall at our assembly). The English translation approved by the U.S.C.C.B. in November 2002, is still awaiting final confirmation from the Holy See. We expect publication of the final booklet in late February.
Charter and Norms: The second item is the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was approved at the U.S.C.C.B. fall meeting on November 14, 2002, and the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons were given approval by the Holy See on December 8, 2002, which now have the effect of particular law. I ask that each priest read the documents thoroughly and know what is contained in each. As your Bishop, I have been working toward implementation of the Charter and Norms. Monsignor Paul Swain, Vicar General, is my representative for the Diocese. Mr. Bill Brophy, our Communications Director, is our spokesperson. We are committed to meet all provisions of the Charter and Norms. It is my wish that we do so in large measure by March 1, 2003, the date the Norms are effective. (See pages 16-18 for a complete text of the Norms and Charter [online here].) Full Letter ...