Francis’s proposed tribunal to judge bishops who covered up for paedophile priests has stalled, reports AP in Crux.
The Pope's most significant sex abuse-related initiative to date is a victim of a premature roll-out, unresolved legal and administrative questions, and resistance both inside and outside of the Holy See, Church officials and canon lawyers say.
The surprise proposal made headlines when it was announced last June as the first major initiative of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission. A Vatican communique said Francis and his nine cardinal advisers had unanimously agreed to create a new judicial section within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to handle “abuse of office” cases against bishops accused of failing to protect their flocks from paedophiles.
But the proposal immediately raised red flags to canon lawyers and Vatican officials alike.
For starters, the congregation, which since 2001 has been the clearing-house for all Church abuse cases around the world, wasn’t consulted or even informed. As is, the congregation is understaffed and overwhelmed processing hundreds of backlogged cases of priests who molested children, and advising dioceses on how to proceed.
“In reality, the congregation knows nothing about this. The question has just been left there. It hasn’t been dealt with,” said Fr Davide Cito, canon lawyer at Rome’s Pontifical Holy Cross University, who has helped investigate abuse cases for the congregation.
The Vatican communique said a new secretary for the congregation and staff would be appointed, and adequate resources allocated. But nine months later, no appointments have been made. Francis recently repeated that he would appoint the secretary, but even once in place, he will be starting from scratch on an uphill battle.
“We’re confident that the Holy Father’s announcement of his intention to name a secretary for the Discipline Section is a clear sign that the implementation of his earlier decisions will be expedited,” the head of the sex abuse advisory commission, Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley, said in a statement to AP.
Photo: Cardinal Seán O’Malley (AP)