Vatican Radio reports on the issuance of a new motu proprio letter from Pope Francis that aims to deal with episcopal enablers of clerical sex abuse:
In a new Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, Pope Francis has established new norms providing for the removal of Bishops (or those equivalent to them in Canon Law) from their offices in cases where they have “through negligance, committed or omitted acts that have caused grave harm to others, either with regard to physical persons, or with regard to the community itself.”
The Apostolic Letter “Come una madre amorevole” (As a Loving Mother) also clarifies that, with regard “to abuse of minors or vulnerable adults, it is sufficient that the lack of diligence be grave.”
In a note explaining the new procedures, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said, “The Apostolic Letter insists on the importance of vigilant care for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, calling for a ‘particular diligence.” Therefore, he continued, “it clarifies that negligence regarding cases of sexual abuse committed against children or vulnerable adults are among the ‘grave causes’ that justify removal from ecclesiastical Offices, even of Bishops.”
We already know that Francis is keen to discipline orthodox bishops implicated in such malfeasance, as was the case with Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, whose case we covered here, here, and here.
But what about Francis’ personal friends? The ones who, like Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium — who was caught on tape attempting to silence a victim of clerical sex abuse — helped to get Francis elected? As I shared with our readers last year:
On April 8, 2010, the newly retired Cardinal Danneels received some visitors at his home. They were the relatives of the Bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, Danneels’ close friend. At this meeting, the nephew of Vangheluwe described a long and sordid 13 year molestation by his uncle, the Bishop of Bruges. Cardinal Daneels advised the nephew not to go public with the sexual abuse. During the meeting, Danneels advised the young man not to “make a lot of noise” about the abuse he endured from his uncle bishop because Vangheluwe was scheduled to retire in a year anyway. “It would be better that you wait,” advised Danneels, while also urging the young man to forgive his uncle.
“The conversation was tape recorded by the nephew and subsequently released to the press. Cardinal Danneels, the former head of Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church for 3 decades, could be heard on tape urging this sexual abuse victim to stay quiet and not disclose the abuse until after the bishop who repeatedly molested him over a span of 13 years could retire. After the release of the recording, Danneels did not dispute the authenticity of the conversation. A media firestorm was unleashed in Belgium, a country still reeling over institutional cover ups of child sex abuse.
Or what of Bishop Barros, who raised eyebrows in the pope’s own anti-abuse commission and whose appointment as Bishop of Osorno in Chile was met with passionate protests? What of Francis’ scornful response to these concerns?
“The Osorno community is suffering because it’s dumb,” Pope Francis told a group of tourists on St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, because it “has let its head be filled with what politicians say, judging a bishop without any proof.”
“Don’t be led by the nose by the leftists who orchestrated all of this,” the pope said.
The video, filmed by an Argentine tourist in May, was obtained by a Chilean television station and broadcast Friday, quickly instilling doubts here about the pope’s commitment to protecting victims of sexual abuse.
Hundreds of demonstrators interrupted Bishop Barros’s installation ceremony in March, blocking his passage and shouting, “Barros, get out of the city!” The protests have not stopped since, but this time the anger has turned to the pope.
“The pope’s comments aggravated our discontent,” said Juan Carlos Claret, a spokesman for Osorno’s Lay Organization, which has been holding protests and candlelight vigils against Bishop Barros for months.
“It is the Church of Osorno that is demonstrating; we are not taking orders from political parties,” Mr. Claret said. “We are now seeing the real face of Pope Francis, and we demand an explanation.”
Some people I respect — individuals with reasonably solid theological training — say that the new changes actually represent an improvement, a clarification where there was previously ambiguity. And of course, actual cases of epsicopal coverup of such crimes demand to be addressed without equivocation.
There is currently no English text of the motu proprio, but sources in Rome tell me that it is primarily directed at ordinaries currently serving in episcopal sees. This seems strange when “retired” Cardinals like Law and Danneels are still out there, consequence free. Barros is a new bishop, and thus, should be among the first to earn the scrutiny of this new document, but if Francis really means business on this issue, Danneels can’t go unaffected.
The simple fact is this: if friends of the pope are off limits, the new procedures are all but worthless. And to be frank, we don’t need another weapon, however appealing it may be on the surface, that will ultimately be used only against bishops who allow Catholic Tradition to flourish in their dioceses, oppose the obvious interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, or in some other way “make trouble” for the current program of the Holy See.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
May I post the Google translation of the document? It is better than nothing, at the moment.
Personally, I feel this document is just a cover to accuse good and faithful bishops of wrongdoing and get them out of the way. Judging by the broad definitions put in place in the document, this seems to be the case. We will know for sure once we get an accurate translation, though.
No, we might know more of what this is about if it ever so happens that someone is accused and goes before one of the commissions, which will be run by his peers and friends, whose possibly unsavory histories he knows very well. Don’t hold your breath waiting for any of this to happen. And think of some of the possibilities that might derail the process if it begins to looks possible – a sudden medical problem, the recanting of a main witness, etc. In the meantime, by far the best bet is a PR stunt that will have no effect on anyone, except to leave the abused ones feeling stomped on again as Danno notes while leaving any and all clergy with a home free card..
More Papal waffle. They won’t touch Danneels or Barros or any other in-house supporter, but use this motu propio to wield a stick against Traditional Bishops whenever they can. Pope Emeritus Benedict laid down certain guidelines which were never enforced. It was all too little & too late and this initiative of PF is also.
Exactly! This was my very first thought as I read this. Another tool to reign in Traditional Bishops.
Pope Francis continues showing disdain for victims who were sexually violated by clergy. His history in Argentina is horrible, refusing to meet with victims and his efforts to protect proven pedophile cleric Fr. Grassi were repulsive.
He has shown his true colors when caught by a tourists video calling concerned Catholics stupid and leftists because they spoke up about Baroros witnessing and protecting a serial abuser.
Francis let a dangerous pedophile Wesolowski wander around Rome while under bogus house arrest. Wesolowski also downloaded scores of child porn while awaiting the ridiculous Vatican trial. I have lost all hope in Francis after he complimented US bishops for their response to the sexual abuse crisis. He is another say one thing but do another church leader. He promises transparency but then lies in response to the UN report on child sexual abuse. He stated that he has no control or responsibility for any priest, bishop or Catholic employee outside of Vatican City.
How very sad! These deceitful antics continue to cause more pain for victims.
Could you please cite sources here? I’d like to look them up and keep them on file. Thank you.
+Lombardi flatly stated the action is not retroactive, and I don’t think this has anything to do with clerical abuse at all. That’s a diversion. This has to do with the implementation and enforcement of Chapter VIII of AL. https://nonvenipacem.com/2016/06/05/that-motu-proprio-doesnt-mean-what-you-think-it-means/
Yup. The USCCB has appointed a committee run by Chaput for that purpose. Give “mercy” or else!
Agreed. This looks a lot like a power grab under the auspices of fighting clerical sex abuse. The whole idea of a College of jurists making recommendations to the Pope, who then has the final say, smacks of recent synodal shenanigans. And which Bishops will the Pope decide get the axe because they caused some yet undefined “grave harm” to the “community”? Well, I suppose it could be bishops (like Danneels) who protect predatory sex offenders within the clergy, or it could be Bishops who over use their air conditioning, thereby doing “grave harm to the community” by contributing to global warming.
Why this motu proprio doesn’t fill you with the joy of the gospel or the joy of love is beyond my understanding.
The whole world has become Osorno.
Here is the Google translation of the document, with Steve’s permission to post it. Please note that it is a rough translation!
LIKE A LOVING MOTHER
a loving mother the Church loves all her children, but treats and
protects with a very particular affection the smaller and helpless: this
is a task that Christ entrusted to the entire Christian community as a
whole. Aware of this, the Church dedicates a cure vigilant to protect children and vulnerable adults.
Such protection job and care up to the whole Church, but especially through its pastors that it must be exercised. Thus diocesan bishops, the Eparchs and those who have the
responsibility of a particular Church, must employ a particular
diligence in protecting those who are the weakest among the people
entrusted to them.
Canon law already provides for the possibility of removal from office
ecclesiastical “for serious reasons”: this also relates to the diocesan
bishops the Eparchs and those who are equivalent to them by law (cf. c.
193 §1 CIC, can. 975 § 1 CCEO). In
this letter I intend to point out that among those “grave reasons”
includes the negligence of the bishops in the exercise of their office,
in particular in relation to cases of sexual abuse of minors and
vulnerable adults, provided by MP Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Protection
promulgated by Saint John Paul II and amended by my beloved predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. In such cases it will be observed the following procedure.
1. The Diocesan Bishop or Eparch, or who, even if on a temporary basis,
has the responsibility of a particular Church, or another of the
faithful community equivalent to it in accordance with can. 368 CIC and can. 313
CCEO, can be legitimately removed from office, if have, through
negligence, place or omitted acts have caused serious harm to others,
whether it be individuals, whether it is of a community as a whole. The damage may be physical, moral, or spiritual balance.
§ 2. The Diocesan Bishop or Eparch can be removed only if objectively
he has missed in a very serious diligence that is required by his
pastoral office, even without serious moral fault of his own.
§3. In the case of abuse of minors or vulnerable adults it is sufficient that the lack of care is serious.
§4. The diocesan bishop and all’Eparca are equivalent major superiors of
religious institutes and societies of apostolic life of pontifical
§ 1. In all cases in which serious indications appear with the
provisions preceding article, the competent authority of the Roman Curia
Congregation can start an investigation on the matter, giving notice to
the person and giving him the opportunity to produce documents and
§2. The Bishop will be given the opportunity to defend himself, what he will do with the means provided by the law. All
steps of the investigation will be notified and will always be given
the opportunity to meet the Superiors of the Congregation. Said meeting, if the Bishop does not take the initiative, will be proposed by the Department itself.
§3. Following the arguments presented by the Bishop Congregation may decide further investigation.
taking its decision, the Congregation will meet, as appropriate, other
bishops or Eparchs belonging to the Bishops’ Conference, or Synod of
Bishops of the Church sui iuris, which is part of the Bishop or Eparch
concerned, in order to discuss the case.
§2. The Congregation takes its determinations meeting in ordinary session.
If it considers it appropriate to remove the bishop, the Congregation
will determine, based on the circumstances of the case, if:
1st. to give, in the shortest possible time, the decree of removal;
2. fraternally urge the Bishop to submit his resignation in a period of 15 days. If the bishop does not give his response within the prescribed period, the Congregation can issue a decree of removal.
The decision of the Congregation of Articles. 3-4 must be submitted for approval specifies the Roman Pontiff, Who,
before taking a final decision, will be assisted by a special college of
lawyers, duly assigned.
that I have determined with this Apostolic Letter given motu proprio I
order to be observed in all its parts, notwithstanding anything to the
contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and I establish that it is
published in the official commentary Acta Apostolicae Sedis and
promulgated in the newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano” entering into force on 5 September 2016.
From the Vatican, June 4, 2016
The short answer is no way. It’s just another excuse to accuse a faithful bishop and take him out. I wonder how long it will be before Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider are accused?
Maybe this motu propio is Christ’s Will to get faithful Cardinals & Bishops to join with the SSPX and lead us back to Tradition?
But they should embrace all of the catholic teachings ,and the reality is why do we go to mass? I attend to have an encounter with Christ.We have the Latin Mass which in its Great Mystery gives tradition and much more beyond comprehension.
TLM is what we are endeavouring to get restored and spread once agin throughout the world. Vatican II & the restriction placed on the SSPX made it impossible for them to operate under NO Bishoprics but that could soon end – either by way of their being fully regularised without penalties or restrictions of any kind and without having to embrace Vatican II teachings, OR by way of schism in which they are released from such authority from a counterfeit Church leadership & are free to preach the Word of Christ everywhere and not in a few selected places as has been the case to date.
I don’t understand how SSPX is endeavoring to get The Latin Mass restored.I will ask you if you are clergy in the Church,to use such words as Counterfiet Church Leadership????
I would not expect words like this not from the laity.I am a Catholic, We are the body of Christ and in being the body we are to be obedient,not choose what we will accept or not.I have known some very nice people over the years who ,went to SSPX masses,would tell me that the pope s not the real pope,that my church parishes were not the true church.When I would say to them that SSPX was not in union with Rome and the mass did not fulfill their Sunday Obligation they would go off on me.Like I say very nice people…Knights of Columbus,Rosary Rally’s etc but ….Pope Francis will make the declaration ultimately….but I Hope in what he proclaims The opening sentence will read.
The Holy Spirit and We Declare_________________.Peace and Blessings✨
There are far more expert opinions here than mine, however: Obedience does not extend to following that which is against magisterial teaching. For example, being told to give communion in sacrilegeous circumstances – it can’t be followed. It must be interpreted in light of the magisterium’s teaching – which can’t be changed.
Agreed,that’s why the closing is The Holy Spirit and We declare……That is what Peter proclaimed in the book of acts and that’s what the pope will open up with as well.
That will happen in the schism (Akita prophecy).
Must another get out of jail free pass for his buddies
There was an interesting article in Long Island Newsday about a Marist Priest from Chamanade High School who was removed from teaching due to the subject matter and I was amazed that Bishop Murphys office said that this priest will be dealt with by his superior.He taught in Rockville Centre Catholic School System and it seems to me there for said Diocese was responsible for him being the employer.So this would be interesting to see how the Popes declaration plays out.After all someone,and everyone is responsible….Peace
Sometimes I wonder why people bother to post comments that only express enthusiasm or agreement, but this time, “THANK YOU, STEVE!” just has to be said.
Well, I always appreciate them anyway. Thanks Helen!
Thanks for your thanks. No need to thank me. :- ) LOL
Is there any mechanism at all for the faithful to get Dad taken to the locked ward? Any?
I am so glad and thankful for this report. Bishop Finn suffered so. And I do not doubt he did it with a joy only found in such a holy person. I am very worried about this edict as it is stated.
Many good bishops have been poorly counseled in this area from their very own people who surround them. It could turn into a witch hunt, except it is the witches who are the hunters.
I am very worried about this. Bless you and thank you for your report. You have courage to write what every Catholic media outlet must be thinking or worried about. And if they are not even entertaining the possible consequences, then they have their heads in the sand.
God bless you and thank you very much for this article. It must be said.
Bishop Finn suffered did you forget about the parents of the babys that were used for sex models. No wonder this Church will never change when people like you just do not have a clue.You make my head want to explode!
I don’t blame your rage here at my post.
I have a clue, believe me. It has sickened me as to what has occurred and has been covered up for decades now. Bad and perverted priests, bishops will and have met their justice by God almighty.
There is so much more to this specific case regarding Bishop Finn. He trusted those around him who told him the proper way and channel to handle this pathetic and demented priest.
I hope Francis boots the two bishops referred to in this article far into outer space. Other thoughts I have regarding them cannot be expressed on this forum.
Finding myself at length quite fed up with wishful thinking, I have taken the last paragraph of the above post and edited it to bring reality crashing in:
“Friends of the pope are off limits, no ifs, ands, or buts. The new procedures are worthless and will be used only against bishops who allow Catholic Tradition to flourish in their dioceses, who oppose the heresy in Amoris Laetitia, or who in any way ‘make trouble’ for the current program of the Holy See.”
Is that clear? Good.
After three years I confess I am astonished to observe, still, the throat clearing, the beard pulling, the on-the-one-hand-but-then-on-the-other-handed hemming, hawing, benefit-of-the-doubt-bestowing, is-it-even-possible-that?, nearly professional bewilderment of writers here—indeed just about everywhere—as to what may be this, that, or the other real aim, intention, preference, druthers, goal, strategy, tactics—Am I getting through here?—of Pope Francis I on this matter or on any other religious, theological, and pastoral matters from here on out, how beyond the pale his exercise of papal authority appears at the time notwithstanding one little bit.
Wake up, please! In its own unintended but nonetheless insidious way, impotent temporizing that over time has ranged from bemused coyness to fair-minded vacillation to slack-jawed astonishment is a vital ingredient in abetting this Pope and his agenda. You can also be sure that he knows that, too. Francis long ago lowered his visor. Remaining in doubt as to what is going on is not helpful, to put it rather mildly, as he blows past every obstacle in his path on an accelerating basis.
Unshackle your powers of imaginative pessimism, ladies and gentlemen. Absolutely everything is in play, including [fill in worst nightmare].
Along with the subjunctive mood, banish every hope for the best from your thoughts. Expect the worst—No—Depend upon it. Rely on it.
It’s very boring.
It is nearly inconceivable that Francis would waste a single calorie in action not designed to destroy the Church. Sure, this works for show to msm. But it will be wielded against the faithful and those few Bishops with loyalty to Christ. Any other ultimate purpose would shock.
Protecting pedophiles and child abusers is sick, but what bothers me more is that these same bishops/cardinals are the leading dissenters from Church teachings.
There’s only one way to eradicate the cancer of sexual abuse, and that is to eradicate the tumor of homosexuality. The homos are spawning the problem, so if they want to cleanse out the abuse, they need to cleanse out the homos.
This motu proprio is aimed first to get rid more easily of the traditional bishops upon non proven hearsays or suspicions.
It is a shame that Danneels never was indicted. It is a shame that the Pope invited him to attend the Synod on the FAMILY (!!!)
I suppose the answer is No. These procedures, and the former procedures, were only used on the vaguest possible grounds to hound prelates who were too strongly Catholic. One victim (Dr Hamilton) claimed Bp Barros watched Fr Karadima molest him, and it is said the bishop and the disgraced priest were very, very close. Pope Francis jeering concerned Catholics from the diocese is incredible as mentioned. Cardinal Danneels personally urged a victim not to report a paedophile bishop, and most recently got a plum job from the Pope. Benedict XVI was not optimal on child protection as Cardinal Ratzinger, but probably he was under constraint, but he moved mountains as Pope. Pope Francis is not doing even remotely enough.The procedures now can even lead to injustice against priests under allegations, and are not necessarily helpful to victims.
How about including the firing of bishops who facilitated the condemnation of innocent priests? This is another side of the sexual abuse debacle.