No immunity for bishops

No immunity for bishops

Pope Francis wants to take more consistent action against bishops who cover up sexual abuse by priests or delay clearing it up. A new judicial section for such cases is to be established at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Vatican finances, the structure of the media and legal norms for bishops involved in abuse scandals were the focus of the tenth round of conferences of the so-called Cardinals' Council for Curia Reform ("K9 Council").

The nine cardinals, including Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx, discussed the preamble to the new Constitution on the Curia, which Pope Francis wants to reform the 1983 Vatican structures. The draft must be worked on further, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi stressed to journalists Wednesday.

For the financial area, which was already reorganized a year ago, three new working groups have been set up at the Economic Council, Lombardi said: one for the analysis of inputs and investments, a second for the use of human resources and the third to review existing computer structures.

Furthermore, the K9 Council recommended at its conference round, in which the Pope also participated for long stretches, a merger of the Vatican media sections within four years. A new authority should be established in the next few months, into which the various institutions should be gradually introduced, while preserving staffing levels. This includes the Pontifical Media Council, the Press Office, Vatican Radio, the newspaper "Osservatore Romano," its photo service, the publishing bookstore, the printing office and the Internet office. This was intended to exploit synergies and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

Judicial office for abuse offenses by bishops

Finally, the K9 Council approved several recommendations of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children for action against bishops who cover up sexual abuse by priests. Accordingly, the authorities responsible for bishops in the Vatican should be responsible for reports: the Congregation for Bishops or the Congregation for Missions or the Congregation for Eastern Churches. A new section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should be established for legal assessment and litigation against bishops.

The pope should appoint a secretary to assist the prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, in this area, he said. Until now, there has been no due process for such cases.

On Monday afternoon, Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley had presented the recommendations of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children. The Council of Cardinals unanimously approved its recommendations and submitted them to the pope, who accepted them and ordered the allocation of appropriate resources for their implementation, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi explained Wednesday.

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