A statement from Archbishop Lori of Wheeling-Charleston
With utmost gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, I welcome his Moto Proprio, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the Light of the World”), which creates new Church law establishing uniform and universal requirements for allegations of child sexual abuse, as well as for those who abuse their authority, including bishops,” Archbishop William E. Lori, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said.
Today’s announcement from Rome sends a clear and unequivocal message that Pope Francis has heard the voices of Catholics and others throughout the world, ensuring that the Church will not tolerate any behavior that threatens to harm another, regardless of position or rank. I am especially grateful that the norms are very much aligned with the considerable feedback I have received from the faithful of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston over the past nine months.
In addition to mandating how allegations of child sexual abuse are handled, the Pope also calls for clear standards of pastoral support for victims and their families and for whistleblower protections for those making allegations. I am further heartened that the Pope places emphasis on the handling of allegations of those who abuse vulnerable adults and on allegations of sexual abuse through intimidation and coercion by those in positions of authority.
Today’s document also calls for the creation of a reporting system for allegations against bishops, something that we implemented here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore last January. Our system of accountability and transparency has provided a model for similar reporting systems in the Archdiocese of Boston and in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
I look forward to gathering with my brother bishops of the United States next month in Baltimore to discuss the timely implementation of these important and essential safeguards that will strengthen our longstanding policies, such as zero-tolerance.
As Church leaders continue on the path of repentance, reform and renewal for our entire Church, we must continue to remain vigilant and to seek new ways of advancing transparency, accountability, and healing for those harmed by members of the Church.”
Diocese of Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton stated
The recent papal document reminds us that all victims of sexual abuse and their families deserve justice. I am encouraged by the new norms on mandatory abuse reporting issued by the Pope Francis. All entrusted with the care of souls, especially bishops and those in Church authority, have an obligation to protect all people from abuse, especially the most vulnerable. This is an appropriate time review all child protection protocols, including reporting systems and standards in the Diocese of Steubenville
The Diocese then added
The new juridical instrument is meant to help bishops and religious leaders around the world clearly understand their duties and church law, underlining how they are ultimately responsible for proper governance and protecting those entrusted to their care. For this reason, the new document establishes a clearer set of universal procedures for reporting suspected abuse, carrying out initial investigations and protecting victims and whistleblowers.