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Bishops agree to begin review of charter earlier than planned

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BALTIMORE — An update on the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" will take place sooner than originally planned. On Nov. 17, the second of two days of public sessions during their fall general assembly Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore, the bishops voted to begin the process of updating the charter in 2022 rather than in 2025. The vote was 230 bishops in favor of the plan and five bishops against it.

Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., chairman of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, told the bishops that events in recent years made it necessary to start the review sooner than expected. The bishops most recently approved charter revisions in 2018 and set a seven-year period for future reviews. The review that led to these changes began in 2013 and took five years to complete because of various legal questions that arose as the process unfolded.

Among the events Bishop Johnston cited for starting the new review earlier were changes in the Code of Canon Law regarding penal sanctions in the church that take effect in December; Pope Francis' May 2019 motu proprio, "Vos Estis Lux Mundi," revising and clarifying norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable for protecting abusers; and the Vatican report on the investigation into allegations of abuse by Theodore McCarrick, former cardinal and archbishop of Washington. "To wait until 2025 to begin our charter review is simply too long to wait," Bishop Johnston said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021