By Jim Fair
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) is up and running. A person who has an allegation of abuse involving a bishop can go to the CBAR website or call 1-800-276-1562. The creation of the system was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USBBC) at the group’s spring, 2019, general assembly.
The purpose of the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) service is to provide a third-party service for gathering and relaying to appropriate Church authorities reports of the following kinds of misconduct:
- A U.S. Catholic bishop who has:
- forced someone to perform or to submit to sexual acts through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
- performed sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person;
- produced, exhibited, possessed, or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
- or, a U.S. diocesan or eparchial bishop, or other cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who, in the exercise of their office, intentionally interfered with a civil or Church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious.
This third-party reporting system is provided by Convercent, Inc., which is a commercial vendor of ethics reporting services and has no authority within the Catholic Church. The service reflects Convercent’s standard design for confidentially receiving and relaying reports, additionally tailored to fit the requirements of Church law. The service is paid for by the 197 dioceses and eparchies of the United States. The service is operated by the Metropolitan archbishops and Senior Suffragan bishops of each province, with the assistance of the designated lay people corresponding to each.
Neither Convercent nor the third-party system conducts any investigation. Instead, the system only gathers and routes reports to the appropriate Church officials in a manner consistent with canon law, so that they, in turn, can be investigated. Only those Church officials delegated with authority by the Holy See can conduct a Church investigation of a bishop. Some reports, such as those of sexual abuse of a minor, will be conveyed to civil authorities as well. In those cases, Church officials will suspend any canonical action in deference to an investigation being conducted by civil authorities when they so request.
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