WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made public a statement in support of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., and its bishop, William E. Lori, in the Diocese’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding legal proceedings initiated by the New York Times and other newspapers in 2002.
The statement was issued at the request of the Administrative Committee of the USCCB. The full text of the statement follows.
“At the recent meeting of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, held in Washington D.C. on Sept.15 and 16, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport brought to the Bishops’ attention a recent case arising out of his diocese that is now pending before the United States Supreme Court for its possible review and that implicates important principles.
The Bishops of the United States have taken sustained, concrete steps to fulfill our pledge to ensure a safe environment for children and young people in the Church, and to promote healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors of sexual abuse. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (2002) was a prominent milestone in that longstanding commitment.
However, when a claim of sexual abuse results in litigation, we must remain vigilant against the risk that court-enforced avenues for the legitimate disclosure of documents are not abused in particular cases, resulting in the excessive entanglement of the state in the affairs of the Church. Also in the litigation context, we must insist upon fair treatment for the Church in accordance with the rule of law, so that the intense emotions surrounding sexual abuse cases do not result in decisions that would deny the Church the same legal protections—including those regarding disclosure of documents—that any other party would enjoy.
We express our fraternal support for our brother Bishop Lori. We understand and are grateful for his strong defense of the Diocese in this case, and especially for the balance he has tried to strike among the principles of compassion, transparency, religious freedom, fundamental fairness, and the rule of law.”