The Pope has announced on Wednesday the creation of a new church tribunal to judge bishops who do not expose priests guilty of sexual abuse on children, a move considered revolutionary in the Vatican history.
The new office will be set up within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which will be mandated to judge all such cases connected to the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.
Details must still be worked out, including the statute of limitations to determine whether old cases of negligence by bishops dating back 20 or 30 years ago can now be heard. “Time will tell the effectiveness of the new measure, but I am hopeful”. Their aim was to prevent scandal.
Initially the complaints would be investigated by one of three Vatican departments, depending on whose jurisdiction the bishops were under.
The US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the Pope should have gone much further. The Vatican said it could be possible for Pope Francis to visit Argentina in the spring of 2016.
The idea to create the tribunal came from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, an advisory panel created in 2014 and headed by O’Malley.
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the head of Pope Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission, presented the proposals to the Pontiff’s cardinal advisers, who have been meeting this week. “He has, however, sacked no one”.
For too long, bishops have feared neither the arm of the law nor the wrath of the Vatican.
“The Holy Father approved the proposals and authorized that sufficient resources will be provided for this objective”, Vatican radio said.
“I don’t have a lot of background information on it”, said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Pope Francis took a massive step towards the eradication of allegations and cases of child rape and molestation involving priests and bishops.
On the church’s role in solemnising marriages for the State, Dr Martin said the bishops didn’t yet feel ready to take a decision, as the legislation had yet to be published.
Last week, prosecutors in Minnesota charged the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis with six counts related to a sexually abusive ex-priest. “We welcome it and will cooperate”, Kurtz said.
“But the other thing is that this tribunal doesn’t make any mention of other office holders within Catholic Church institutions, such as principals of Catholic schools, people within the Catholic education service who apparently had a lot to say about how these crimes were covered up, and, also, heads of religious orders”. “Priests abuse children and so do bishops – bishops who offend are inevitably enablers, and the commission’s plan must confront that sad fact”.
“If he (a bishop) doesn’t have the right attitude to abuse, or if he doesn’t deal with a case properly and it means a child is not kept safe, then he will have to answer to his own higher authority as well as to civil authority”, said Ms Collins.
Canon law already does provide sanctions for bishops who are negligent in their duties, but the Vatican was never known to have meted out punishment for a bishop who covered up for an abuser.
Full article: http://rapidnewsnetwork.com/pope-francis-backs-new-vatican-sex-abuse-court/34084/