Bishop Bambera’s Statement on USCCB’s New Polices on Child Protection

June 27, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Diocese of Scranton is committed to protecting its young people and ensuring that the local Church of Scranton continues to address issues of child sexual abuse with vigilance and fidelity.

I attended the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Meeting earlier this month and voted in favor of all four new policies and procedures that were proposed during the meeting. While the revelations of the last year have rightfully angered and outraged many, the overwhelming majority votes by the bishops on all four initiatives shows our collective desire to keep our young people safe.

Throughout the conference, the underlying issue in my mind was the respect and treatment of those survivors who may have not been believed, ignored or even shamed when they came forward with their claims in the past.

For me, one of the documents approved, Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments, was especially important and significant.

In that document, I affirmed once more the commitments I made when I was ordained your bishop, including the commitment to respond directly and appropriately to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons.

Please understand I take this responsibility seriously. They are not just words on a piece of paper.

In the same document, I also re-committed myself to including the help of lay men and women whose professional backgrounds are indispensable. The Diocese of Scranton has been doing this since before the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” went into effect in 2002. The involvement of the laity in our Diocese, especially the Diocesan Review Board (which is made up of a majority of lay persons) has been both consoling and helpful.

I fully understand that, as bishops and a Church, our level of credibility has been challenged. When we say we are committed to this work, we are going to need to show it. These new policies and procedures are just the latest in a series of steps the Church has taken to respond to the sin and crime of sexual abuse.

As a Diocese, we welcome the opportunity to talk with anyone on the work of the Church to address abuse situations and to develop a shared understanding of the work that remains.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton