Recent findings in the Catholic Church’s clerical abuse investigation have shaken many of the faithful, and the Archdiocese of Boston’s Seán Cardinal O’Malley has made efforts to avoid complacency on the subject. Boston’s involvement in the crisis over the past two decades leads many to look to Cardinal O’Malley for a plan that can renew a sense of safety and trust in the Church.
At February’s Vatican anti-abuse summit, a mission dedicated to revitalizing a sense of reliability and transparency was established among many of the world’s bishops, abuse survivors, and superiors of religious communities. The summit’s goal, as described by Pope Francis, was to “create a strong consensus throughout the universal Church of zero tolerance of sexual abuse, to develop the programs which will implement this mandate and to put in place the programs of education and prevention needed to keep children safe throughout the world.”
Responding to the Church’s call for action, Cardinal O’Malley announced the creation of a hotline to be used by survivors of clerical abuse. This technology, EthicsPoint, is a confidential third-party system designed specifically for the reporting of misconduct by clergy of the Archdiocese of Boston. Any reports to EthicsPoint will be made through toll-free phone calls or on web-based secured servers separate from the Archdiocese’s systems; they will then go to an Independent Review Board, which is obliged to notify both law enforcement and the apostolic nuncio.
In his Lenten Letter released on March 6, Cardinal O’Malley explained, “The way forward for the Church is to hold as a priority the voices and experience of survivors, to keep them close to every step we take and make all possible efforts to provide the means for them to be heard.”
In addition to his commitment to hearing the stories of abuse survivors, O’Malley’s hope is that EthicsPoint will serve as an effective mechanism in making leaders more aware of their duty to protect the vulnerable.
Amidst talk of O’Malley’s mission of support and care for victims throughout their healing processes, some survivors are voicing their opinions on EthicsPoint. Phil Saviano, who suffered clerical abuse as a child in Worcester, MA, wonders “Why go through a middle-man when survivors can report directly to law enforcement?”
O’Malley affirms that it will be a long road to completely putting an end to the abuse crisis, but implementing this step is significant in acting congruently with the Church’s zero-tolerance policy to create and maintain safety for children in schools and churches. He states that “much has been accomplished, but our work in this area is continuing, and is lifelong.”
More information on EthicsPoint will soon be available, as it is anticipated to be launched in the very near future. As an initiative to increase the accountability of bishops on more local levels, Cardinal O’Malley’s new system is hoped to re-establish faith in the Catholic Church through policies of complete transparency O’Malley’s actions recall the words of Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, “We will never stop working on having the proper answer. If what’s being done is not enough, we will continue working. We can never give up when it comes to protecting our children.”
Photo courtesy of Scott Maentz via Flickr