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Rome Reports

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Motu Proprio on abuses: There is no longer immunity, no one is above the law

After three months have passed since the summit on sexual abuse that brought bishops from all over the world to Rome, Pope Francis has promulgated a new law for the whole Church with clear objectives.

Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
“It determines the obligation of clergy, religious and other ecclesiastical authorities to denounce abuse. It establishes safe ways to communicate the accusations to be investigated to the appropriate authority. It also puts in place norms to protect the one who makes the denunciation as the victim of the crime.”

The Vatican has explained in a press conference the pope's new Motu Proprio entitled “You are the light of the world.”

These new rules also require immediate denunciation, not only of abuses, but also of any concealment and possession of pedophile material. From June onward, all priests, religious men and women of the Catholic Church, including the hierarchy, will be subject to this law.

Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
“We now have a universal law that determines the fundamental stages for the investigation of a member of the hierarchy. They may be a bishop, a superior general, or a religious member. It warns that the hierarchy is also subject, not only to the law of God, but also to canon law. They are responsible for the crimes committed. There is no longer immunity for someone in the hierarchy.”
"No one in the hierarchy is above the law."

The Motu Proprio “You are the light of the world” also sets in place a system of control for the bishops through the metropolitan archbishops and even people of the diocese.

It establishes that by 2020 every diocese in the world has to have an office or system for receiving accusations. 

Another important point is the speeding up of abuse investigations. The bishops must immediately inform Rome of alleged cases. Additionally, the dicastery in charge will have to respond within 30 days and the investigation should not last longer than 90 days.