“Pope issues motu proprio on removal of Bishops” & related article

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Victims have long accused bishops of covering up for abuse, moving rapists from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police

The Independent

Saturday 4 June 2016

Nicola Winfield

Pope Francis has established legal procedures to remove bishops who botch handling sex-abuse cases, saying they can be kicked out of office if the Vatican finds they were negligent in doing their jobs.

In a law published on Saturday, the Pope answered a long-running demand by victims of abuse and their advocates to hold bishops accountable for failing to protect their flocks from paedophiles. Victims have long accused bishops of covering up for abuse, moving rapists from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police.

In the law, Pope Francis acknowledged that the Church’s canonical code already allows for a bishop to be removed for “grave reasons”. But he said he wanted to precisely state that negligence, especially negligence in handling abuse cases, can cost a bishop his job.

Bishops “must undertake a particular diligence in protecting those who are the weakest among their flock,” Pope Francis wrote in the law, called a .

But amid a host of legal and bureaucratic questions posed by that original proposal, Pope Francis decided to streamline the procedure and task the Vatican offices that are already in charge of handling bishop issues to investigate and punish negligence cases.

In the law, Pope Francis said a bishop can be removed if his actions or omissions cause “grave harm”, either physical, moral, spiritual or financial, to individuals or communities.

The bishop himself doesn’t need to be morally guilty: It’s enough if he is purely lacking in the diligence required of his office. When the cases concern abuse, it’s enough that the negligence is “serious”, the law says.

The procedures call for the Vatican to start an investigation when “serious evidence” is provided that a bishop was negligent. The bishop will be informed and allowed to defend himself. At the end of the investigation, the Vatican can prepare a decree removing the bishop or ask him to resign within 15 days.

If he doesn’t, the Vatican can go ahead with issuing a resignation decree.

Any decision to remove the bishop must first be approved by the pope, who will be assisted by a group of legal advisers, the law says.

Associated Press

3 Responses to “Pope issues motu proprio on removal of Bishops” & related article

  1. Person who has interest says:


    I read about defending oneself against a negligence claim and it read as follows ‘To successfully defend against a negligence suit, the defendant will try to negate one of the elements of the plaintiff’s cause of action. In other words, the defendant introduces evidence that he or she did not owe a duty to the plaintiff; exercised reasonable care; did not cause the plaintiff’s damages; and so forth. In addition, a defendant may rely on one of a few doctrines that may eliminate or limit liability based on alleged negligence.’ etc…. there are other examples on other websites…. but I am sure you get the general idea.

    That is just one sample. I’m guessing the introduction of the word ‘negligence’ is an effort to deflect from the words ‘obstruction of justice’ and set up a defense for negligence.

    *sigh* When will it stop?

  2. jg says:

    “But he said he wanted to precisely state that negligence, especially negligence in handling abuse cases, can cost a bishop his job.”

    “cost the bishop his JOB”

    I am gagging right now! I thought it was a “calling”, all these years! I still get amazed at all the spin but it has not been the least amusing for the last 11 years.
    Then we wonder where the morals have gone, why such despair in society…
    The “leaders” have let us down big time, they are just looking for a paycheck at the end of the day, a lot of comfort for themselves.
    Straight from the “Pope”(!?): save the jobs!!
    This is a long way from self sacrifice, generosity, trust in the “Allmighty”…
    It’s a “job” with pensionable benefits, all the donations they can divert to their cottage…gambling habit… uncontrollable spirits(liquor) consumption…new car, travel abroad …
    It’s a job to protect!
    I’m gagging.
    Not so long ago, on this site, I remember when we were told that “Rome” could not be responsible for what happened in the various dioceses in the world, that the “administration” fell to the bishops.
    I guess that was wrong after all!! Rome does have a say in correcting the “problem”…probably because they were/are part of the problem from the beginning!

    • BC says:

      John V. Doe v. Holy See, which the Holy See unsuccessfully appealed all the way to the ultra conservative US Supreme Court which refused to even hear the Holy See’s appeal, clearly establishes that from a legal perspective, the Church is a commercial entity. And because sovereign states can be sued civilly for negligence for issues involving commerce, the Holy See can be sued vicariously for it’s liability for negligent Bishops.

      You were correct to believe that the Holy See’s position regarding Dioceses worldwide was to see nothing, know nothing and hear nothing, before Doe v. Holy See. In effect, the Church held that the unity of the Church was a merely a tax scam: that the Church was merely a random sum of Dioceses… who happened to call themselves Catholic. It was a silly defence against the negligence of it’s Bishops and fortunately, it’s not available anymore.

      Of course, in most civil jurisdictions worldwide, there is an obligation to ADR before litigation is initiated. And even in jurisdictions where no such obligation exists, it’s always advisable to settle. As we’re dealing with a sneaky Holy See right now it’s difficult to know how many cases are being settled at this moment for the civil negligence of Bishops. The Patron Saint of Selfies has contrived a secret extra process to handle Bishops; but that is actually telling victims: – wait a minute! we have our own secret little process going on in the background… and we’ll let you know when we’re done…

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