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Pope Francis calls all bishops to accountability with motu proprio on abuse

Pope Francis issued a decree in May for the worldwide Church which establishes a new law for reporting and investigating sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The motu proprio, Vos estis lux mundi (You are the light of the world), sets a deadline of June 2020 for all dioceses, eparchies and religious orders to establish expedient processes for reporting sexual abuse, especially by clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life. 

The decree includes directives on caring for those who have been abused and protects reporters of abuse. It does not make changes to existing canonical penalties for clergy proven to have committed sexual abuse of a minor or a vulnerable adult. 

In the introduction to Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis declares, “It is good that procedures be universally adopted to prevent and combat these crimes that betray the trust of the faithful.” The pope called all bishops to leadership and accountability in the decree. “This responsibility falls, above all, on the successors of the apostles, chosen by God to be pastoral leaders of his people, and demands from them a commitment to follow closely the path of the Divine Master.”

The Decree:

• Requires prompt reporting of abuse by all
• Includes reporting norms for abusive acts by bishops
• Protects reporters of sexual abuse
• Mandates use of metropolitan system for investigating abuse
• Provides for inclusion of  laity in the process
• Includes direction on caring for victims of abuse
• Requires accessible systems for reporting abuse