Catholic bishops guilty of covering up cases of child sex abuse should be subject to removal, the Vatican said on Saturday as it laid out new legal guidelines.
This, according to report, is part of Pope Francis‘ attempts to clean up the church’s tarnished image after years of scandals.
“A bishop may legitimately be removed from office for acts committed or omitted by negligence, resulting in the provocation of grave damage to others. This damages could either be on physical persons or a community as a whole,” the pope said in the statement.
The letter, directly from the pope under his own initiative, stressed that bishops will now be sacked for negligence and for not actively pursuing paedophile priests in their dioceses.
The letter pointed out that the pope already has the power to remove bishops for “grave causes”, but it specified the pope would now act “in relation to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.”
The pope would be assisted in disciplinary decisions by a new dedicated college of jurists, which would be made up of bishops and cardinals.
A motu proprio letter comes directly from the pope without consultation with cardinals, advisors or church bodies and usually relates to minor changes in church law.