The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has welcomed Pope Francis’s announcement of a new Vatican department to deal with bishops accused of covering up or not preventing child sexual abuse by clerics.
But I think what the new regulations coming out from the Vatican means that there’s going to be a more efficient way of holding both myself and other bishops accountable to the Holy Father for our stewardship of our dioceses, especially in the area of the prevention of abuse of minors.
In Chile, the pontiff’s January appointment of Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as the new bishop of the Diocese of Osorno generated strong national protest because of his ties to the Rev. Fernando Karadima, found guilty by the Vatican in 2011 of sexual abuse of minors and sentenced to a life of “penance and prayer”. They create a mechanism by which the Vatican can examine complaints and adjudicate them with the creation of a special judicial section inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Details must still be worked out, including possible punishments and the statute of limitations to determine whether old cases of negligence by bishops dating back 20 or 30 years can now be heard. There are parents who are so concerned that they don’t allow their children to have computers in their room; the computers must be in a common area of the house. “Priests abuse children and so do bishops – bishops who offend are inevitably enablers, and the commission’s plan must confront that sad fact”. The panel approved the measures, as did Francis, who authorized funding for full-time personnel to staff the new office, the Vatican said.
Bellegarde says a directly apology from the Pope “would be huge” and help bring closure to those who suffered atrocities and abuses at the schools, many of which were run by the Roman Catholic Church. In theory, a bishop could appeal a verdict to the pope, but a Vatican spokesman said Wednesday “there’s no reason to expect he’d overrule the tribunal’s decision”. On the other hand, many people are pleased with the Pope’s new approval of the said tribunal. The Vatican’s charity office began offering haircuts and shaves by professional volunteers, as part of the shower service.
The Vatican’s initiative comes as U.S. prosecutors are seeking to hold the church hierarchy responsible for failing to protect children from harm.
Nearly every report I’ve read has mentioned Bishop Finn, probably because his case is so fresh, but one wonders whether the first name on the docket might end up being Boston’s Cardinal Bernard F. Law, predecessor to Cardinal O’Malley, who resigned in 2002 and in 2004 – after a brief stint as chaplain to the Religious Sisters of Mercy, in Alma, Michigan – was appointed an Archpriest of the Basilica of Mary Major by Pope John Paul II.
St. Louis, MO (KTRS) The Spring General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is underway in St. Louis.
“When allegations against senior clergy are brought to the tribunal, we’ll see whether it’s working”, Saunders said. Since 2001, the congregation has judged priests accused of sexual abuse, but there has been no Vatican office with a similar role to judge bishops. Larry is our main news editor.