In June 2019, at the direction of Pope Francis, metropolitan archbishops in the United States approved the implementation of a plan which will now allow for the reporting of allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, or misconduct by bishops through an independent, third-party entity. Victims will now be able to report claims specifically against bishops through the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) which went into effect on Monday, March 16 at 9:30 a.m. (ET).
Individuals may go to ReportBishopAbuse.org or call (800) 276-1562 in order to make a report.
The service is operated by Convercent, Inc., an independent, third-party entity that provides intake services to private institutions for reports of sensitive topics such as sexual harassment through a secure, confidential and professional platform.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting service allows individuals to relay to Church authorities any reports of 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.
- Intentionally interfere with a civil or church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious. (This includes a cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop.)
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service (CBAR) does not replace existing reporting systems for complaints against priests, deacons, religious or laity. CBAR responds only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct.
The reporting of sexual misconduct by anyone in diocesan ministry who is not a bishop, such as priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters or laypersons working or volunteering for the Church should continue to be handled in accordance with the Diocese of Knoxville’s child protection policy (https://dioknox.org/creating-a-safe-environment/) and with proper civil authorities.
While the mandate by Pope Francis in “Vos estis” echoes many of the practices that the Catholic Church in the United States has already implemented since 2002 with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” this new order applies to the bishops and to the worldwide Catholic Church, making clear the pope’s concern of the issue of sexual abuse in the Church at a global level.