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Pope halts U.S. bishops from voting on sex abuse reforms

Hawaii residents monitoring the ongoing scandals about clergy sexually abusing people must continue to wait for the Roman Catholic Church to adopt reforms meant to hold abusers accountable. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had been on the verge of voting on new measures to address abusers and leaders who shielded them from consequences when the Vatican sent a last-minute order to hold off on making decisions.

The archbishop who serves as the Vatican's ambassador to the United States said that Pope Francis delayed the U.S. bishops from making reforms because he wants the Church to address the problem as a whole and not country by country. The bishops who had gathered with the intent of dealing with systemic sexual abuse disliked the pope's intervention. They expressed eagerness to take action. The pope plans to hold an international meeting of bishops in February to discuss the sexual abuse crisis.

Although prevented from establishing concrete reforms, the U.S. bishops still have the option of debating their proposed measures. They had put forward ideas like an abuse report hotline and standards of conduct for Catholic bishops. The U.S. bishops had been poised to reform their practices after a grand jury report in one state revealed widespread sexual abuse and coverups.

The trauma inflicted by sexual abusers on victims could leave lifelong scars. A person who wants guidance when reporting sexual abuse could speak with an attorney. Legal counsel could offer methods for holding a responsible party accountable for physical and emotional injuries. An attorney could also investigate an institution's response to reports of abuse and potentially seek financial damages through a lawsuit.

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