FALL RIVER—In response to the apostolic letter by Pope Francis in May 2019 Vos extis lux mundi, (You are the Light of the World), a new independent third-party reporting system is in place to receive allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. bishops. The Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, went live on March 16, 2020, and is now available for individuals who wish to file an allegation of misconduct involving a Bishop or Cardinal.
There are two ways to file an allegation: online at reportbishopabuse.org; or by phone, where trained personnel will receive the information regarding the allegation. The number to call is 1-800-276-1562. Individuals can remain anonymous if they choose in both instances.
This third-party reporting system is provided by Convercent, Inc., which is a commercial vendor of ethics reporting services and has no authority within the Catholic Church. The service reflects Convercent’s standard design for confidentiality receiving and relaying reports, additionally tailored to fit the requirements of Church law.
“I am pleased that the nationwide system to report abuse and misconduct against any bishop is now in place, implementing in our country one of the key directives of Pope Francis’ Vos estis,” said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.
“It is meant to ensure that all clergy, regardless of their rank in the hierarchy, will be held accountable for acts of sexual abuse and related misconduct. It is imperative that the Church remain ever vigilant to safeguard our young people and to eliminate the abuse of children in all forms and all places.”
This newly launched system will replace the existing EthicsPoint instituted by the Boston Province in August 2019 to serve as a temporary reporting mechanism until the nationwide one was implemented. The Boston Province includes the Archdiocese of Boston along with the dioceses of Fall River, Springfield and Worcester in Massachusetts and the dioceses of Portland, Maine, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont. Anyone who has already filed a complaint through EthicsPoint can continue to monitor the progress on that platform, which will remain active.
The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) service will accept specific types of abuse allegations against bishops and cardinals:
- Forced someone to perform or submit to sexual acts through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
- Performed sexual acts with a minor or vulnerable person;
- Produced, exhibited, possessed, or distributed child pornography, or recruited or induced a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;
- or, a diocesan or eparchial bishop, or a cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who has intentionally interfered with a civil or church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious.
CBAR does not replace existing reporting systems for complaints against priests, deacons, religious or laity. CBAR was designed to respond 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 lay persons working or volunteering for the Church should continue to be handled in accordance with the Fall River Diocesan Policies and Procedures for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults and with proper civil authorities. For information on Fall River Diocesan policies and procedures, please visit: www.fallriverdiocese.org and click on the Safe Environment tab on the top menu bar.
For more information on CBAR, please visit: reportbishopabuse.org