Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service
The Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service is the result of the directive from Pope Francis, which became operational March 1, 2020 to address the crime and sin of sexual abuse in the Church and to hold bishops accountable. It is part of the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to sexual abuse and builds upon the foundation that was put in place with the Dallas Charter, the Essential Norms, and the Statement of Episcopal Commitment that date back to 2002.
To report sexual abuse by a bishop or intentional acts by a bishop to interfere in a civil, criminal or church investigation of sexual abuse committed by a cleric or religious:
- Call: 1-800-276-1562
- Go to: ReportBishopAbuse.org
Note: If the report includes information about a crime also notify law enforcement or if it includes abuse or neglect of a child contact Child Protective Services (CPS) at 1-800-252-5400 to file a report.
Frequently Asked Questions
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What Is the Purpose of This Service?
The purpose of the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) service is to provide a third-party service for gathering and relaying to appropriate Church authorities reports of the following kinds of misconduct:
- 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;
- or, a U.S. diocesan or eparchial bishop, or other cleric overseeing a diocese/eparchy in the absence of a diocesan or eparchial bishop, who, in the exercise of their office, intentionally interfered with a civil or Church investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed by another cleric or religious.
What Kinds of Reports Should Not Be Made Through This Service?
All other complaints against bishops, such as theological concerns, liturgical abuses, church closings, priest assignments, etc., are beyond the scope of this reporting service. Such complaints should not be made through this reporting service.
If you wish to report sexual abuse or misconduct by other clergy or Church personnel other than a bishop, please contact your diocesan / eparchial Victim’s Assistance Coordinator instead. Consult your local diocesan / eparchial website for contact information.
Although Church authorities who receive reports of the sexual abuse of a minor and certain other crimes will report them to civil authorities as required by law, this service is not intended as a substitute for calling the police. If you feel that you are the victim of a crime, please contact local law enforcement immediately.
Will This Service Respect My Privacy?
Although reports made through this service will be routed to appropriate Church personnel and, as warranted, civil authorities for investigation purposes, the reports will otherwise be kept confidential. You are not required to provide your name or contact information, although you may choose to do so to facilitate the investigative process. Any data submitted will be protected through enhanced encryption.
What Should Be Included in A Report?
Your report must include:
- the name of the U.S. Catholic bishop you are reporting;
- a description of the allegation, the place where it occurred, and the timeframe of when it occurred, as best you can remember.
It will be helpful if the report also includes as many relevant details as possible, such as the names of other individuals involved, as well as dates, times, known circumstances, or other information useful to assess the facts of the situation.
What Happens to A Report Once It Is Submitted?
- You will be given an access number and personal password that can be used to follow-up on the status of your report. The service can provide automated status reports at a very general level, but it can also provide a confidential avenue of communication for asking more detailed questions about status.
- Your report will be forwarded to the proper Church authority, usually a Metropolitan archbishop (or a Senior Suffragan bishop if the report is about the Metropolitan, or if the Metropolitan See is vacant). All of the information you provide will be forwarded without any editing or revisions.
- At the same time, your report will be forwarded to a lay person who has been designated to assist the bishop in receiving reports.
- Some reports, such as those involving minors, will be reported to law enforcement.
- The Metropolitan (or Senior Suffragan) and designated lay person will review the report.
- The Metropolitan will then send your report to the Apostolic Nuncio along with an initial assessment.
- The Apostolic Nuncio will then send your report and the Metropolitan’s initial assessment to the appropriate authority within the Holy See.
- Within thirty days, the Holy See will determine if a formal investigation is warranted. If so, it will authorize a bishop to oversee the investigation.
- If an investigation is ordered, it will be undertaken by qualified experts, including lay persons. Normally, the investigation is to be completed within 90 days of receiving the order from the Holy See.
- Once the Holy See receives the conclusions of the investigation, the Holy See will initiate the appropriate process that will lead to a final judgment.
Who Is Providing This Service?
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 confidentially receiving and relaying reports, additionally tailored to fit the requirements of Church law. The service is paid for by the 197 dioceses and eparchies of the United States. The service is operated by the Metropolitan archbishops and Senior Suffragan bishops of each province, with the assistance of the designated lay people corresponding to each.
Who Investigates the Reports Entered into This Service?
Neither Convercent nor the third-party system conducts any investigation. Instead, the system only gathers and routes reports to the appropriate Church officials in a manner consistent with canon law, so that they in turn can be investigated. Only those Church officials delegated with authority by the Holy See can conduct a Church investigation of a bishop. Some reports, such as those of sexual abuse of a minor, will be conveyed to civil authorities as well. In those cases, Church officials will suspend any canonical action in deference to an investigation being conducted by civil authorities when they so request.
Which Bishops Are Covered by This Service?
This reporting service may be used to report the actions or inactions of living U.S. Catholic bishops, whether active or retired, of U.S. dioceses or eparchies. This includes the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter and bishops of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and current diocesan and apostolic administrators of vacant U.S. sees.
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