By Vatican News
The Motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi is intended as a universal and concrete response to the phenomenon of abuse within the Church. That was the message of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, speaking with Vatican News. The Cardinal explained the principle changes brought about by the new document, which is the product of a full ecclesial collaboration.
“We can consider the Motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi as one of the fruits of the Meeting for the Protection of Minors convoked by Pope Francis in the Vatican this past February”, Cardinal Ouellet said. “This document establishes new and efficacious procedures to combat the plague of abuse”.
Cardinal Ouellet explained the biggest changes made by the Motu proprio in the Church’s discipline: “First of all, the obligation for every diocese” in the Church to establish “public stable, and easily accessible systems” for reporting abuse”. He also noted the obligation of clerics and religious to report abuse; the extension of the definition of abuse to include “harassment or violence through the abuse of authority”; and the inclusion of cases of abuse of religious women on the part of clerics, or abuse of seminarians or new clerics by their superiors.
“Finally, but no less important”, the Cardinal said, “is having codified the procedures that hold Bishops and Religious Superiors accountable for their actions, not only in cases of abuse committed by them, but also in cases of their direct omissions to interfere with or evade” civil or ecclesiastical investigations of abuse.
Cardinal Ouellet insisted, however, that Bishops should “absolutely not” feel they are under observation or suspicion. “We know that thanks to God almost all Bishops, like priests and religious, are men who seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ in the daily life of testifying to His Gospel”. But, he said, “Where there is a difficulty, we must confront it, especially if a bishop is involved”.