The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have approved three additional measures to address abuse and bishop accountability during their annual Spring General Assembly Thursday in Baltimore, Maryland.

The USCCB says the reforms are designed to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual misconduct against minors and vulnerable adults.

The first vote, Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops, passed by 212 to 4 with 1 abstention.

This form of accountability provides protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons.

It also empowers the USCCB president to restrict bishops removed or resigned for reasons related to sexual abuse or abuse of power.

A second vote was taken where Bishops said they were "Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments" and that measure passed 217 to 1 with 2 abstentions.

This accountability measure implements a bishop code of conduct, including the affirmation that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is expanded to include bishops as well as priests and deacons.

The third vote, Directives for the Implementation of the Provisions of Vos estis lux mundi Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents, presents a plan for optimal implementation of Pope Francis’s recent Motu proprio in the United States, including an outline for lay involvement. It passed by 218 to 1 with 2 abstentions.

The body of bishops passed another bishop accountability reform, voting for the establishment of a Third-Party Reporting System for receiving confidentially, by phone and online, reports of possible violations by bishops of Vos estis lux mundi.

The action item commits to activating the system no later than May 31, 2020.

The Vos estis lux mundi is a letter from Pope Francis addressing the sexual abuse scandal.

"The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful. In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church, so that personal sanctity and moral commitment can contribute to promoting the full credibility of the Gospel message and the effectiveness of the Church’s mission. This becomes possible only with the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, as we must always keep in mind the words of Jesus: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5)."

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