Pope Francis sets up tribunal for bishops in child abuse cases
Catholic bishops accused of covering up and not protecting children from sexually abusive priests are to be judged by a Vatican tribunal, approved by Pope Francis.
The Pope made an announcement approving the procedures on Wednesday, following a series of consultations with his international Council of Cardinals. A Vatican statement announced that procedures will include a new judicial section within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that has a Papal mandate to “judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors”.
For years, victim groups have been demanding the Vatican to make bishops show more responsibility for abuse in their diocese and to be held accountable for it even if they have not been directly responsible.
The Catholic Church had previously defrocked and penalised priests found guilty of abuse through judicial procedures but there was no similar system in place to judge bishops as previously only the Pope could discipline them. However, bishops accused of abuse are now to be judged and disciplined by the tribunal rather than leaving cases solely to the Pope.
The tribunal will not only deal with recent cases but also a backlog of abuse cases.
In February the Pope sent a letter asking religious superiors and presidents of episcopal conferences for their cooperation to “rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused”.Tags: bishops, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis, tribunal, Vatican