Pope Francis abolishes pontifical

‘Vos Estis’ expires in one year. What works and what changes are needed in version 2.0?

Vos Estis Version 2.0?

Title
: ‘Vos Estis’ expires in one year. What works and what changes are needed in version 2.0?
Author: Christopher White
Publisher: National Catholic Reporter
Date: 10MAY2021

While many canon law experts believe the norms in “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” represent a turning point in the church’s efforts to hold bishops accountable, others believe much could be improved upon, including greater transparency on disclosing when investigations are taking place, the need to mandate the use of lay experts, and clarity on the status of bishops removed from office following an investigation. 

Two years ago this month, Pope Francis issued a sweeping new church law on bishop accountability, establishing a global system for investigation allegations against bishops of abuse or its cover-up.

Known as Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are the Light of the World”), the norms encourage — but do not mandate — the involvement of lay experts in the process of investigating allegations against bishops. When it was signed into law, Vos Estis was adopted for a three-year period “ad experimentum.

To date, there are at least six known authorized Vos Estis investigations into U.S. bishops by the Vatican. Since taking effect, several other bishopshave also come under investigation, although the Vatican has used different processes for handling their cases.

Chieko Noguchi, a spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops’ conference, told NCR that “Since the [Vos Estis] model derives its authority from the Holy See, the Conference does not have an oversight role in the process.”

While many canon law experts believe the norms in Vos Estis represent a turning point in the church’s efforts to hold bishops accountable, others believe much could be improved upon, including greater transparency on disclosing when investigations are taking place, the need to mandate the use of lay experts, and clarity on the status of bishops removed from office following an investigation.

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