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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope issues new norms on mandatory abuse reporting, bishop accountability

Pope Francis has revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse.

The new juridical instrument is meant to help bishops and religious leaders around the world clearly understand their duties and Church law, underlining how they are ultimately responsible for proper governance and protecting those entrusted to their care. For this reason, the new document establishes a clearer set of universal procedures for reporting suspected abuse, carrying out initial investigations and protecting victims and whistleblowers.

The new document, given “motu proprio,” on the pope’s own initiative, was titled “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), based on a verse from the Gospel of St Matthew (5:14).

“The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful,” the pope said in the document, released by the Vatican on 9th May. The norms go into effect on 1st June.

In order to stop all forms of abuse from ever happening again, not only is “a continuous and profound conversion of hearts” necessary, there must be “concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church,” he wrote.

Picture: Pope Francis prays in front of a candle in memory of victims of sexual abuse as he visits St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin on 25th August 2018. Pope Francis has revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).