Vatican tells U.S. bishops not to vote on proposals to address sex abuse

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Vatican is ordering bishops in the U.S. to delay guidance on how to address sexual abuse allegations, which means it could be even longer before we learn which local priests have been accused.

Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos has been investigating allegations in local churches for years and has questioned the Charlotte Diocese about when parishioners and the public will get answers.

Two weeks ago, a spokesperson with the Charlotte Diocese said it would decide within weeks whether to publish a list of local priests who have faced credible allegations of sexual abuse.

Those priests could include men still working in the church, but that decision won't happen for several months.

Bishops across the U.S. gathered in Baltimore Monday morning and were expected to vote on steps to respond to the sexual abuse crisis, but a surprise announcement halted that move.

“At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on the two action items regarding the abuse crisis,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Assembly.

That delay has a direct impact on transparency in Charlotte.

“I think it tells you, the Holy Father, the pope wants to have input in this issue we're dealing with in the United States,” Charlotte Diocese spokesman David Hains said.

Hains said church officials want guidance on how to create a list of accused priests and what specific information to include, even though nearly a dozen dioceses nationwide have already gone public with their own lists of accused priests.

“It's not a delaying tactic where you're trying to get out of something,” Haines said. “We're looking to do the job and apply it across the world.

Watchdog group Bishop Accountability demands action and it is calling for nationwide investigations, every U.S. bishop to resign and each credibly accused priest's name be made public.

“Until we have these lists, we are not going to know what dangerous persons are living in our communities,” said Terry McKieman, with Bishop Accountability.

Hains said bishops will meet with the pope in Rome in February.

The earliest they could vote on action in the U.S. is March.

Attorneys general in several states have launched investigations into the Catholic Church abuse scandal.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said unlike other states, North Carolina law doesn't allow him to call for a grand jury investigation. He does not have the authority.

Stein plans to push lawmakers to expand prosecutors' powers.

Last year, Latos spoke to a Charlotte couple whose son was an alter boy and was sexually abused by a priest at Saint Matthew Catholic Church in Ballantyne.

The family believes the Charlotte Diocese knew about the abuse years before their son came forward and pressed charges.

A spokesperson with the diocese said that's not the case.

The diocese settled a lawsuit for $1 million.

The priest, Robert Yurgel, spent nearly eight years in prison.

[9 Investigates: Charlotte family speaks out about son's abuse by a priest]

There have been other local priests accused of abuse, but the cases were dismissed for various reasons.

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