By JOANNE FOX
Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City expressed his satisfaction with the directives that were approved during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring general assembly.
During their June 13-14 meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the bishops decided to supplement their document on Catholic participation in public life with a short letter and other supplementary materials.
“I was very pleased with this approach,” Bishop Nickless said. “I think we are finally realizing people do not have time to read long documents and this is especially true for our millennials.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president and former Bishop of Sioux City, read a statement criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision that asylum seekers fleeing domestic or gang violence could not find protection in the United States.
“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma,” the cardinal said.
Bishop Nickless celebrated Mass during the week and chose to preach on the issue of asylum and supporting families who seek refuge in the U.S.
“This is not about politics,” he emphasized. “This is about morality.”
The bishops voted to revise ethical and religious directives governing key moral questions when Catholic and non-Catholic institutions are preparing to cooperate or merge.
“I really appreciated the update on the subject of the unification of Catholic and non-Catholic entities,” Bishop Nickless said. “These are complex issues that need to be addressed as we encounter more consolidations of institutions and what that means to a facility’s Catholic identity.”
Of most interest to the Sioux City bishop was the discussion and approval of changes in language to the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” known as the Dallas Charter. The changes tighten requirements and clarify that all people who have contact with minors will abide by standards of behavior and appropriate boundaries.
Another change added wording that defines the method and the scope of the annual audit each diocese – including the Diocese of Sioux City – undergoes to determine compliance with the charter.
“This clearly shows our continuing commitment to protect God’s children and provide a safe environment for them,” Bishop Nickless said. “We must remain vigilant and never waver from our obligation to guard children and young people from abuse by anyone associated with the church.”