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Pope scraps abuse tribunal for negligent bishops

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis meeting Vatican employees and their children.


Pope Francis yesterday scrapped his proposed tribunal to prosecute bishops who covered up for paedophilic priests after it ran into opposition. He instead, clarified legal procedures to remove them if the Vatican finds that they were negligent.

The new procedures sought to answer long-standing demands by survivors of abuse that the Vatican holds bishops accountable for botching abuse cases.

Victims have long accused bishops of covering up for paedophiles, moving rapists from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police and suffering no consequences.

But the new law was immediately criticised by survivors of abuse as essentially window dressing since there were already ways to investigate and dismiss bishops for wrongdoing. They were just rarely used against bishops who failed to protect their flocks from paedophiles.

Analysts suggested the new law was much ado about very little.

The main US victims' group, SNAP, said it was "extraordinarily sceptical" that the new procedures would amount to any wave of dismissals since popes have always had the power to oust bishops but haven't wielded it.

"A 'process' is helpful only if it's used often enough to deter wrongdoing. We doubt this one will be," said SNAP's David Clohessy.