Jun 4 2016
Pope Francis has issued a very important decree regarding the accountability of bishops, which makes it possible now to remove diocesan bishops for neglecting their duties, in particular in regard to protecting minors and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse.
The decree comes in the form of an Apostolic Letter motu proprio released by the Vatican on June 4, responding to the many calls to hold bishops fully accountable for failing to act to protect children and vulnerable adults. With this decree Francis addresses that problem head on.
In it, Francis recalls that already “canon law provides the possibility of removal from ecclesiastic office ‘for grave reasons’” and this applies also to “diocesan bishops, eparchs and those who are equivalent to them in law.”
In the decree, Francis said that he intended “to specify that among those ‘grave reasons’ is included the negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office, in particular in relation to the cases of sexual abuse committed on minors and vulnerable adults,” explaining that this had been envisaged by earlier decrees on this matter. He mentioned the motu proprio issued by John Paul II in 2001 (Sanctorum Sanctitatis Tutela) and the amendments to this by Benedict XVI in 2010.