Vatican cancels US bishops’ vote on sex abuse reform measures

Instruction to delay consideration of a new code of conduct for bishops and the creation of a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct came directly from the Holy See

A view of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. (Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.)

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference has told the American bishops that they will not vote on two key proposals which had been expected to form the basis for the Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis.

The news came at the beginning of the U.S. bishops’ conference fall general assembly, meeting in Baltimore Nov. 12-14.

The instruction to delay consideration of a new code of conduct for bishops and the creation of a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct came directly from the Holy See, DiNardo told a visibly surprised conference hall.

DiNardo said that the Holy See insisted that consideration of the new measures be delayed until the conclusion of a special meeting called by Pope Francis for February. That meeting, which will include the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, will address the global sexual abuse crisis.

Apologizing for the last minute change to the conference’s schedule, he said had only been told of the decision by Rome late yesterday.

Ahead of the bishops’ meeting, two documents had been circulated: a draft Standards of Conduct for bishops and a proposal to create a new special investigative commission to handle accusations made against bishops.

These proposals had been considered to be the bishops’ best chance to produce a substantive result during the meeting, and signal to the American faithful that they were taking firm action in the face of a series of scandals which have rocked the Church in the United States over recent months.

Speaking before the conference session had even been called to order, DiNardo told the bishops he was clearly “disappointed” with Rome’s decision. The cardinal said that, despite the unexpected intervention by Rome, he was hopeful that the Vatican meeting would prove fruitful and that its deliberations would help improve the American bishops’ eventual measures.

While DiNardo was still speaking, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago intervened from the floor, expressing his support for the pope.  

“It is clear the the Holy See is taking the abuse crisis seriously,” Cupich said.

Cupich suggested that if the conference could not take a binding vote, they should instead continue with their discussions and conclude with resolution ballot on the two measures. This, he said, would help best equip Cardinal DiNardo to present the thought of the American bishops during the February meeting, where he will represent the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. A lay led body investigating Bishops accused of abuse. Of course the heirarchy in Rome are terrified of this. The lay led body may actually find something, and propose appropriate punishment. If nothing is done they can at least publicize their findings.

    • Sienna Sam says:

      The lay faithful are not fooled by this late-breaking development! Why, all of a sudden did this cancellation of the vote appear?

      Don’t tell us that this was all of a last-minute development! This, most dramatic change, must have been planned well in advance!

  2. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    Wow. On so many levels. Wow.

  3. Salvatore Manella says:

    To the USCCB:

    Pack up and go home!!! Your organization does not even rise to the level of a high school debating society. Your credibility, as a cohesive unit for preserving the Faith is nonexistent.

    You have your dioceses to face now. Better start spinning your excuses.

  4. Ambrosio de Milano says:

    There is a stranglehold on the Church!

    We all see it; yet the Holy See refuses to act.

    How many priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals celebrate Mass, while they also objectively mislead the faithful by turning a blind-eye to the inherent and disordered sickness permeating those entrusted with teaching the faith?

    There is no such thing as a “paradigm shift.” It is nothing more than a contrived fiction, designed by those who got caught, so as to lead the laity away from the Faith.

  5. Before we can progress, certain steps can be taken by the lay faithful. The following is a pretty good guide:

  6. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    This announcement is simply bizarre.

  7. Said the Pope recently, a’hem, QUOTE:

    “Crises provoke fear, alarm. In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. A people that was immersed in a crisis, that looked for its identity until this charismatic leader came and promised to give their identity back, and he gave them a distorted identity, and we all know what happened. In times of crisis, we lack judgement, and that is a constant reference for me… That is why I always try to say: talk among yourselves, talk to one another.”

    • Joe,

      This is so true, particularly as it applies to the TRUE Church (known as the Underground Church) in Communist China.

      Cdl. Zen is pleading with the Holy See, but is consistently and deliberately ignored. At the same time, the Communist Chinese government, which has the Holy See’s blessing to appoint bisjops, destroys Marian shrines.

      Blessed Mother, protect them. Please ask your Son to soften the hearts of the persecutors and give those, who suffer persecution for their faith in your Son, comfort. Most Blessed Virgin Mary, you, of all people, have the ear of your Son. Please command the legions of angels who are at your becon call, as Queen of Heaven, come to the aid of the True Church in China.

  8. What do we do now? The Church, through the clergy, is the only place to obtain the Sacraments. Yet, in order to receive them, we must place our trust in the same individuals whose credibility is in question.

    Since there is no place else to go for the Sacraments, must we sit idly by and be held hostage?

    • Not all are in question. This will offend many but most Bishops are just an extension from Vatican 2. Attend a Church that follows the traditional mass and you will find the consistancy needed.

      • Oh not so fast Joe D: Traditional mass Churches have their own share of priest sex abuse. And it started way before Vatican II.

      • Joe,

        Thanks for the reminder. Yes, there are others who remain true, and as long as even the most notorios scoundtel has valid faculties, the Sacraments he administers retain their efficacy!

      • If you think priests saying the traditional Mass have not been a part of the problem, then you haven’t been following the news very carefully. Many abuses, being brought to light now, occurred in the 50’s and 60’s before the liturgical reforms took place.

        • Whether the TLM or the novus ordo, the Sacraments those clergy administer are valid and licit, as long as the ministers of the Sacraments have their faculties.

        • SIMEO GALLO says:

          I lived at least 40-45 of those years prior to VII becoming active at the ground level. And yes, now and then in those early years we would hear of an errant clergy, but in the early 70’s, I started reading and hearing of “networks” of homosexual clergy and how they were infiltrating the seminaries.

          • Just because you only now started reading and hearing something, means that it was going on a long time before. Whatever corruption was there then wasn’t a new thing. Go back to the Irish homes for unwed mothers. We are just now hearing about it, but the crimes were committed decades and decades ago.

    • Yes, the Holy Catholic Church is the only institution we can get Sacraments. Yes, many priests and bishops are living in grave sin of one kind or another. That does NOT invalidate the Sacraments. Sacraments are holy and valid in themselves, regardless of the holiness or unholiness of the priests administering them.

  9. Fine, go ahead and bury your heads in the sand!

    The USCCB should remember to look over its shoulder. There are already criminal investigations underway, including at the federal level for conspiracy. The Archdiocese of Guam has already petitioned for bankruptcy protection. The rest of the American Church should prepare to follow if it continues on the current path of deception.

  10. Keep it up guys. Now, those who have nothing to do with your indecisiveness are paying the price. Because of you, the innocent are suffering:

  11. How will all of you be able to face those in your dioceses? This action is totally repugnant and shocks the conscience of even the most niave individuals.

    This was your best chance to restore credibility, yet you all squandered it.

    Our Lord only had one Judas to deal with. The faithful have to deal with the entire Church leadership!

  12. Those who have been entrusted with the spiritual health and welfare of the members of the Church have become spiritually and morally compromised. They make a mockery of the gift and privilege of Apostolic Succession.

  13. The Holy See has double-crossed the USCCB.

    Look at all the time, effort and hopeful expectations for progress that has been created. For what?

  14. helen wheels says:

    YFC, I can agree with both your comments !

  15. Bernie Clair says:

    To Cdl. DiNardo and the Members of the USCCB:

    You broke your promises and along with that, you all collectively broke our hearts.

  16. William Robert says:

    The Pope would do well to let the American Church lead the way in cleaning up this mess! After all, the American Church is the major source of funding for the Vatican and the Church as a whole.

  17. A disastrous intervention. Clearly the Holy See has no understanding of the US.

  18. With fear and trembling, I’ll try to put a more positive spin on this discussion. The head of the Bishop’s group at the Vatican asked the USCCB to halt their vote. This was after a quick meeting with Cardinal Oulette and the Nuncio, in Rome. Today, the Archbishop of Malta was called back to the Vatican to be number three in the CDF. He is the one who led the investigation of the bishops of Chile, who ended up resigning en banc. There are also views that the proposals by the US bishops would not have passed church law review and would have been turned down anyway. There are other writings that imply that the Pope wants a universal response to the issues to come from the meeting of heads of the world’s conferences to be held in February.

  19. St. Christopher says:

    Come on Catholic Bloggers, you can not be surprised at this directive. The Vatican (and Pope Francis) are all about thought control, as are all totalitarian governments. The notions of “collegiality” and “synodality” are pretexts in the creation of NewChurch. Think of the NewChurch as Castro’s Cuba, just after Batista was thrown out, or Russia, after the Czar was murdered, or, more aptly, Paris, after Louis XVI was deposed — this is a political act, in a series of political acts, to achieve a determined New Order. Next up, destroying Catholic Tradition and those that practice it, advocate it, or merely worship through it (such as the Little Sisters of Mary, in France, who disband due to anti-Traditional interference by the…

    • Bernie Clair says:

      The surprise was thst the Holy See planned this last-minute coup all along.

      This was a “sneak attack” by the Holy See, just like the Japenese Empire which pretended to act in good faith, while planning a sneak attack.

    • St. Christopher says:

      (Part Deux) ” . . . Vatican and local ordinary.

      And now we will have the creation of the concept of the need for an “approved list” of “trustworthy” Catholic media sources. None of those listed entities (at least so far) are independent or anything other than a source for scandal. They are complicit in pushing whatever Francis sees as the NewChurch. And, further, it is likely that Canon law, such as Canon 212, will be modified or explained away so that no one can highlight the perfidy of today’s clerics. Nope, folks, the jackboots are soon to come. . .

  20. Linda Maria says:

    Just how hard can it be, to run the Catholic Church by good, correct discipline, follow the Code of Canon Law— and punish and excommunicate criminals, and call the cops ASAP, if a crime is committed?? How hard is that??

  21. Speculative observation:

    We all know that the USCCB members are under vows of obedience to the Holy Father. However, the directive came from the Congregation for Bishops. Also, no one is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to a well-formed conscience.

    If the USCCB disobeyed the directive and stood as one cohesive body, will the all be “drummed-out” of the Church?


  22. Linda Maria says:

    Why can’t the Catholic Church simply go back to running the Church by proper discipline, and by the Code of Canon Law?? Why can’t local clergy and lay leaders, simply call police, if a crime happens– and then, why can’t guilty criminal clerics be properly punished– and laicized, and excommunicated?? And also– jailed by police, and receive a trial and punishment (if guilty) in the secular courts?? What is so hard about that??

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