‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops

Title: ‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops

Author: Joshua J. McElwee

Publisher: NCR Online

Date: 27MAY2020

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Pope Francis, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and television reporter Valentina Alazraki of Televisa are pictured during the third-day of a meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Pope Francis promulgated ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi’ following that summit. (CNS/Vatican Media)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are The Light Of The World”): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point.

Mentioning that the procedure does not mandate that Catholics necessarily be told when a bishop is being investigated, Cafardi said: “It seems to me that the faithful have a right to know if somebody is a possible danger.”

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