Laity Rising

Group will help cardinals learn transparency

Many a cardinal and bishop has praised lay involvement in the Church. One wonders if involvement by ex-FBI agents is what some didn’t have in mind?

A group of American laymen called Better Church Governance (BCG) is launching a new initiative to assess cardinals’ records on combatting abuse and corruption, with former FBI agents as investigators. According to news reports, lawyers and experts will compile regional dossiers, or “Red Hat Reports,” covering all cardinals eligible to vote in the next papal conclave (i.e., those under age 80). Reports will assess each cardinal’s record — positive and negative — in areas such as abuse and cover-ups, legal and financial misdealing, and “equivocation, evasion, or deceit when faced with credible charges of abuse or corruption.”

BCG states, “Cardinals have commented that accurately knowing the backgrounds of the other cardinal electors is the most precarious part of each conclave. Our mission is to change this.” The Red Hat Reports “will not endorse or attack any cardinal” but are intended to help the hierarchy in the work of reforming the Church. BCG points out that “lay movements have often outstripped the Church hierarchy” in matters of reform.

On a positive note, BCG states, “There are still many holy and courageous men within the episcopacy. Our job is to empower them — and to prove to the world that they are there.”

Lay involvement, indeed! We will keep NOR readers apprised of their efforts on our Daily News page.

Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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