162 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39:2 2019]
working group discussions, a penitential liturgy, and a closing mass. 196 In his final remarks, Pope
Francis called for the creation of concrete and effective measures; however, Vatican aides stated
that the Pope viewed the summit more as an opportunity for catechesis or religious education,
instead of a formal policymaking conference. 197 No finite solutions were reached at the end of the
summit, but DiNardo has said that he and the rest of the U.S. bishops are preparing proposals for
an upcoming U.S. Bishops’ Conference assembly in June of 2019.198 It seems like the takeaway
from the summit was an agreement that bishops and cardinals who abuse or cover up abuse must
be held accountable, and that formal protocols must be established for handling such situations. 199
DiNardo alluded to the current charter in place, the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Young
People, more commonly known as the Dallas Charter, and stressed a need to intensify it. 200 While
it is not clear what DiNardo meant by “intensifying” the Dallas Charter, he has advocated for active
involvement and collaboration from the laity. 201 DiNardo’s ideal situation includes ensuring that
the lay board is independent while remaining a part of the Church. 202
As the U.S. Conference of Bishops prepares their proposals for the June assembly, it is
important that they keep DiNardo’s suggestions in mind. Actively enforcing the Dallas Charter
and explicitly setting out formal protocols may be the first step in correcting what the Church has
allowed to go on for so long. The most important notion arising from DiNardo’s suggestions is the
idea of empowering the laity. The civilian-led review board can provide unbiased policing and
decrease coverups. In order for bishops and cardinals to respect the instructions and decisions
handed down by the civilian review board, the Holy See must require adherence to the Dallas
Charter. In order for the review board to serve its purpose, the Holy See must quell resistance from
bishops who argue that there are no “theological or canonical requirements” for them to obey the
instructions provided by the review board. 203
As a society, we must strive to eliminate the threat of child sexual abuse. Our first step
toward reaching that end should be to create and enforce retroactive solutions that offer the victims
and their families justice. The suggestions and recommendations posed to revise current civil and
criminal statutes of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania are as such. The
government and legislators can play a part in providing adequate punishment to the offenders and
justice for victims. But the ultimate goal is for the Roman Catholic Church, as an institution, to
accept responsibility for the atrocities being committed by some of its clergy. It is time for the
Church to devise a system that does not prioritize offending clerics over victims. It is time for the
Church to shed the idea that shielding predators will mollify the public’s concerns or stop child
sexual abuse from occurring within the Church. Blindly trusting that the Church will police itself
197 Gjelten, supra note 193.
198 Id.; Intensify the Dallas Charter, supra note 192.
199 Intensify the Dallas Charter, supra note 192.
202 Cindy Wooden, Summit affirms need to hold bishops accountable, U.S. cardinal says, CRUX TAKING THE CATH.
PULSE (Feb. 25, 2019), https://cruxnow.com/february-abuse-summit/2019/02/25/summit-affirms-need-to-hold-
203 Roebuck et al., supra note 33.