Pope’s Sex Abuse Norms Fall Short

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 13, 2019   

New motu proprio a bureaucratic smokescreen

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On Thursday, Pope Francis released new norms for handling clerical sex abuse.

In a motu proprio titled Vos Estis Lux Mundi ("You are the light of the world"), Francis extends protections to seminarians and religious coerced into sex by their superiors, elevating such abuse to the same category as assaults against minors and vulnerable adults.

But looking closer, glaring deficiencies quickly emerge. 


The new norms actually allow bishops to police themselves by putting the metropolitan in charge of investigating all abuse allegations.

In article 10, the document states, "Unless the report is manifestly unfounded, the Metropolitan immediately requests, from the competent Dicastery, that he be assigned to commence the investigation. If the Metropolitan considers the report manifestly unfounded, he shall so inform the Pontifical Representative."

In other words, if the norms had been in place while serial homosexual predator Theodore McCarrick was head of the archdiocese of Washington, he would have had the first and final say over the merit of an allegation of abuse in the suffragan diocese of St. Thomas.

The new norms align closely to the proposal crafted by Cardinals Donald Wuerl and Blase Cupich in the lead-up to the U.S. bishops' fall meeting in Baltimore last November. They allow no lay involvement in abuse investigations and give no instruction to clergy to report allegations to secular law enforcement.
 
The bishops have a decades-long track record of covering for predator priests. When evaluated against the backdrop of the bishops' record on clerical sex abuse, Vos Estis Lux Mundi's empowerment of metropolitans, without the involvement of laity or police, is troubling, observers say — little more than a smokescreen for business as usual, at best. 
 
Watch the panel discuss Pope Francis' new norms The Download—Pope's Sex Abuse Norms Fall Short.
 
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