I am grateful to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the clarity and direction he has given in his Motu Proprio (meaning a change to Church law under the Pope’s authority) Vos estis lux mundi, “You are the light of the world.” It provides a pathway for greater and needed transparency, accountability, and justice within the Catholic Church in responding to allegations of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons.
As Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, has said, “It calls for the establishment of easily accessible reporting systems, clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families, timeliness, and thoroughness of investigations, whistleblower protection for those making allegations, and active involvement of the laity.” Under the new Church law, bishops will also be held accountable for sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons, sexual acts compelled through the abuse of authority, and any coverup of such crimes.
I am pleased that it is already the standard practice of the Diocese of San Jose to report all allegations of sexual misconduct with minors and vulnerable adults to the civil authorities, in accordance with mandated reporter laws. All reports are kept confidential to ensure the victim/survivor’s right to privacy.
I look forward to the June meeting of the USCCB, where the US bishops will discuss the implementation of these new Church laws.