FAQ: Bishops' Conference on Sexual Abuse
What the bishops' conference is, what it was asked to accomplish, and how the prelates voted.
BISHOP BASICS | PAST SEX ABUSE
DALLAS MEETING | VATICAN INVOLVEMENT | LAY OPINION
PROTESTS | FRIDAY'S VOTE | THE FUTURE
What did the U.S. Catholic bishops decide on Friday?
The Charter they approved (read it
) by a 239-13 vote would allow some past abusers to technically remain priests. However, the abusers would be barred from any work connected to the church--from celebrating Mass to teaching in a parochial school to serving in a Catholic soup kitchen. They would also be barred from presenting themselves as priests or wearing clerical clothes.
Priests still could be defrocked (removed from the priesthood), but this decision would be left to the priest's bishop, acting on the advice of an advisory board comprised mainly of lay people.
The new Charter also:
So did the bishops adopt zero tolerance?
It depends who you ask. The Charter would prevent face-to-face contact between abusers and the public. However, victims are calling for abusers to be automatically and permanently defrocked, not simply barred from ministry.