by Hilary White
LINCOLN, April 3, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Patricia O’Donnell Ewers, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection (OCYP), recommended March 30 that the US bishops use “strong fraternal correction” to one of their members who has refused to comply with an annual audit of compliance with national guidelines on sex-abuse programs.
The Bishop for whom the OCYP has recommended the correction is Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, a diocese that is one of the most faithful and has among the lowest rates of child abuse by clerics in the US.
The annual “audit” by the OCYP measures how well dioceses have implemented programs recommended at the 2002 Dallas meeting of the USCCB on the homosexual abuse scandals. This year, however, was the first in which it was suggested the bishops attempt to examine whether the programs of the “Dallas Charter” actually succeed in protecting children. Many parents and other Catholics say they do not and that they are little more than massive PR effort to rehabilitate the bishops’ public image. Many have said the programs do little more than shift responsibility onto the children who are “trained” to protect themselves.
Without holding back his outrage, Bruskewitz has come out swinging. In a statement issued March 31, he wrote, “The Diocese of Lincoln has nothing to be corrected for, since the Diocese of Lincoln is and has always been in full compliance with all laws of the Catholic Church and with all civil laws.”
The bishop writes, “It is well known that some of the members of (the National Review) Board are ardent advocates of partial birth abortion, other abortions, human cloning, and other moral errors. It is understandable then how such persons could dislike the Diocese of Lincoln, which upholds the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Bishop Bruskewitz has not been accused of molesting children, of aiding molestors, of bankrupting his diocese, or misusing diocesan funds to pay off plaintiffs, or sacrificing the religious freedom of the Church to avoid prosecution. Thus far, however, no official rebuke, disciplinary action or “fraternal correction” has been issued or even suggested against any of the numerous US bishops who have done one or more of these things.
Bruskewitz does not hesitate to name the problem: “The members of (Ewer’s) Board are unfamiliar with Catholic teachings, Catholic ecclesiology, and even the basic rudiments of the Catholic Catechism.”
Bruskewitz concludes, “The Diocese of Lincoln does not see any reason for the existence of Ewers and her organization.”
In 2002, Bishop Bruskewitz was the only one of the bishops at Dallas who denounced the bishops’ plan saying it failed to address the real problem. The only group of Church employees for whom the Dallas Charter protection program did not establish standards of behaviour was the bishops themselves. When the bishops ignored Bruskewitz’s recommendation that the bishops examine their own failings, he said he did not consider himself bound to the initiative.
Phil Lawler, writing in Catholic World News, called fraternal correction of bishops responsible for the sex abuse scandal a “wonderful” idea. He suggests including those bishops who have themselves been credibly accused of sexual abuse; those who have “signed away” parts of their Episcopal authority to avoid prosecution; those who used diocesan funds to make huge payoffs to settle sexual misconduct suits levelled against them by homosexual men; and those who have driven their diocese into federal bankruptcy courts.
In 2002, the Dallas Morning News reported that at least two thirds of the US episcopate was either complicit through cover-ups or directly involved themselves in some cases of sexual abuse or misconduct. Since then many more allegations have come to light and more dioceses have applied for bankruptcy protection.
Lawler suggests that the problem has been that the bishops have been allowed to respond to the crisis without credible oversight and therefore lack the will or “honesty to denounce themselves.”
Read Bishop Bruskewitz’s statement:
For a complete list of bishops involved in sex abuse scandals:
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Roots of Sexual Abuse in the Church: Homosexuality, Dissent and Modernism
Vatican Rejects U.S. Bishops Sex Abuse Plan
See LifeSite’s list of past articles on the scandals at