BALTIMORE — At the Vatican's insistence, U.S. Catholic bishops abruptly postponed plans Monday to vote on proposed new steps to address the clergy sex abuse crisis roiling the church.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he was told on the eve of the bishop's national meeting to delay action until after a Vatican-convened global meeting on sex abuse in February.
"We are not ourselves happy about this," DiNardo told reporters in an unusual public display of frustration at a Vatican pronouncement.
"We are working very hard to move to action — and we'll do it," he said. "I think people in the church have a right to be skeptical. I think they also have a right to be hopeful."
The bishops are meeting through Wednesday in Baltimore and had been expected to consider several steps to combat abuse, including a new code of conduct for themselves and the creation of a special commission, including lay experts, to review complaints against the bishops.
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The bishops plan to proceed with discussing these proposals, which were drafted in September by the bishops' Administrative Committee. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, of Chicago, who formerly served in Rapid City and western South Dakota, suggested the bishops could hold a non-binding vote on the proposals while in Baltimore and then convene a special assembly for a formal vote after considering the results of the global meeting in February.
"I realize that another meeting will create logistical challenges for the conference staff and the bishops' schedules, but there is a grave urgency to this matter and we cannot delay," Cupich said.