This week Pope Francis issued a mandatory reporter law requiring all Catholic diocesan priests and religious orders, including sisters, to inform Church authorities when they have “well-founded motives to believe” abuse has occurred. It also directs them to obey civil reporting requirements where they live. This Church law is retroactive and includes past abuse.
Those reporting will receive whistle-blower protection and dioceses must have a confidential reporting system in place by June 1, 2020.
But there is a glaring flaw in the new law.
The Definition of Insanity
Bishops will continue to investigate reported bishops. History has proven this fails. Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is an excellent point in case. Fellow bishops knew about McCarrick’s predatory behavior. Worse than doing nothing, they put him in the role of spokesman on the subject of child sex abuse prevention measures.
Truth Or Consequences
We might get somewhere if the bishops who didn’t report McCarrick were laicized as well. That’s not happening.
Speaking of the failure to report, there is no punishment for an individual who neglects to report abuse or for dioceses that don’t have a confidential reporting system.
Laws without consequences are ineffective, if not useless.
Clericalism Strikes Again
Instead of merely allowing lay experts to assist, Pope Francis should have made it law that qualified laity investigate all cases. But clericalism got the last word in this law.