Regarding the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting System

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March 16, 2020

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this week launched the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting System (CBAR), a means of implementing the requirements of Pope Francis’ 2019 apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”). In that letter, Pope Francis called upon metropolitan archbishops to undertake the responsibility for receiving and assessing reports involving bishops that pertain to sexual abuse and related misconduct. CBAR is operated by Convercent, Incorporated, 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.

Individuals may go to ReportBishopAbuse.org or call (800) 276-1562 in order to make a report.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is grateful for this important new resource, which allows those with complaints to easily submit their reports, with confidence it will be received by a third-party and routed to appropriate Church officials. We view this as yet another step in our commitment to transparency and accountability.

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, as metropolitan bishop of the Michigan province, has closely followed the development of this system and welcomes its launch.

“I pray that this service will lend further support to the Church’s efforts to eradicate the crimes and sins of sexual abuse and of shielding abusers,” he said. “Sexual abuse of any kind is not and will not be tolerated in the Archdiocese of Detroit and, I pray, anywhere else the Church ministers. The abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult, and the covering up of these abhorrent behaviors, has no place in our parishes, schools and communities.

“As metropolitan archbishop of the Province of Michigan – the seven Catholic dioceses in the state – I remain committed to a process that is, by necessity, rooted in transparency and accountability for all. I am ready to undertake the important role of receiving, assessing, and forwarding complaints regarding Michigan bishops.”

When a report is received by CBAR about a Michigan bishop, it will be forwarded to Archbishop Vigneron; if the report concerns Archbishop Vigneron, it will be forwarded to Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing, the next-most senior Michigan bishop. Archbishop Vigneron, with the assistance of a qualified laypersons, will conduct an initial assessment and forward that assessment, along with the unedited report, to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C. The Apostolic Nuncio will then forward both the report and assessment to the Holy See for a determination about whether an investigation is warranted.

The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service allows individuals to report U.S. bishops who have:

  • forced someone to perform or submit to sexual acts through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
  • performed sexual acts with a minor or vulnerable adult;
  • produced, exhibited, possessed or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or vulnerable adult to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
  • intentionally interfered with a civil or Church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another priest or deacon.

CBAR does not replace any existing reporting system for complaints against priests, deacons, religious or laity. In addition, the service is not meant to handle complaints about bishops unrelated to sexual abuse of minors, such as those regarding parish assignments, homily contents, or church closings. CBAR was designed to respond only to complaints against bishops for issues related to sexual misconduct.

Importantly, this system also does not replace the need to report such crimes to law enforcement, first and foremost. The Archdiocese of Detroit encourages individuals to report clergy sexual abuse of minors and others directly to law enforcement – no matter when the abuse occurred. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has established a toll-free reporting hotline at (844- 324-3374, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or aginvestigations@michigan.gov). Individuals also may contact their local police department. For complaints involving priests, deacons, religious, or laity, individuals are welcomed to contact the Archdiocese of Detroit's Victim Assistance Coordinator at (866) 343-8055 or vac@aod.org. Our Victim Assistance Coordinator is a licensed social worker who works independently from the archdiocese to receive and respond to these complaints.

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