Failing to Account

News: Video Reports
by Nicholas Wylie  •  •  September 28, 2022   

Will things ever change?

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Some were hopeful when Pope Francis first issued Vos Estis Lux Mundi, a document with guidelines on holding bishops accountable for their role in sex abuse.

In tonight's In-Depth Report, Church Militant's Nick Wylie discusses the latest Vos Estis case and the policy's lack of effectiveness to date.

Pope Francis: "If he is a priest, he is there to lead men to God and not to destroy men in the name of God. Zero tolerance! And we cannot stop on that. And every case of abuse that appears hurts me, hurts me. But we have to face it."

An Australian bishop is facing the first Vos Estis case in the land down under. 

Bishop Christopher Saunders — the former bishop of Broome — is being investigated by the Vatican for allegations of sexual abuse and covering up abuses by others. 

The investigation comes four years after the Vatican first learned police received complaints about Saunders. But Vatican officials took no action until a news report on the police probe was set to air in 2020.

The police did not press charges — but also did not exonerate the bishop — handing over their findings to the Church. 

Bishop Saunders took a leave of absence in 2020 due to the allegations, which he has always denied.

Pope Francis later accepted his resignation as bishop in August 2021.

The new investigation is headed by Abp. Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, the local metropolitan. 

Vos Estis Lux Mundi calls for the metropolitan to handle cases involving bishops. 

Critics have claimed Vos Estis is just a way for bishops to regulate bishops, since lay involvement is not required, and the findings do not have to be published.

Delia Gallagher, Vatican correspondent, CNN: "How do you ensure the American people that what happened with your brother cardinals in 2002 is now going to change?"

Cdl. Blase Cupich, archdiocese of Chicago: "I and everyone else has to be held accountable, and I've always believed that."

The Francis policy has done little to curb the corruption of bishops.

Critics are questioning whether zero tolerance is truly the goal after the recent findings against Germany's high-ranking bishop Franz-Josef Bode. Bode claimed he won't resign over his diocese's report, which indicated he covered up abuse. 

Bode said he consulted with Fr. Hans Zollner in his decision not to resign. Zollner is regarded as the Vatican's expert on clergy sex abuse. 

Vos Estis seems effective on paper, but like the 2002 Dallas Charter, it's been a way for bishops to escape accountability and continue to pollute Christ's Church.

Many have questioned the pope's zero-tolerance claims after his recent elevation of Bp. Oscar Cantoni of Italy to the College of Cardinals after Cantoni was accused of covering for an abusive priest.

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