Source: The Atlantic
By Emma Green
The leader of the Catholic Church has issued rules creating worldwide accountability for reporting allegations of abuse. But he still faces deep cynicism from the body faithful.
Before this week, the Roman Catholic Church had no global policy requiring priests and bishops to report and investigate allegations of sexual abuse. No formal measure held bishops accountable for misconduct and cover-ups, despite a number of high-profile, horrific cases of wrongdoing by the Church’s top leaders. With story after story exposing new abuses around the world, Catholics have grown cynical about the Vatican’s willingness to face the global sickness of sexual abuse, and many have abandoned the Church entirely.
On Thursday, Pope Francis took a significant step toward changing that.
The pope’s moto proprio, which will take effect in June and remain in place as an experiment for three years, is a definitive and concrete step forward for the Church, demonstrating that Pope Francis is taking sexual abuse seriously. The new law is not a panacea, however: It does not detail specific punishments for Church leaders who violate these norms, and it does not mandate the involvement of authorities outside the Church. After years of paralysis on this issue, the Church must grapple with the crisis of confidence among the faithful, along with skeptics who believe the Catholic Church is not capable of policing itself against abuses of power.
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