Pope Francis has approved measures to sack bishops who mishandle child sexual abuse cases, a papal decree has said. Bishops who are “negligent” in dealing with priests committing abuse will be removed under the new legal procedures, the BBC reports.
The decree comes in response to long-running demands by abuse victims and their supporters to hold bishops accountable if they fail to protect their flocks from paedophiles. Existing laws relating to abuse cases would be tightened, the Pope said.
He acknowledged that canon law already allows for a bishop to be removed for negligence but said he wants a more precise definition of the “grave reasons” that could lead to dismissal. “I intend to specify that among these so-called ‘serious reasons’ is the negligence of bishops in the exercise of their functions, especially in cases of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults,” Pope Francis wrote.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the pontiff had also established a group of lawyers to help him make decisions that could result in the dismissal of a bishop.