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Pope Francis creates tribunal to judge sexual abuse cover-ups



The Pope announced on Wednesday the creation of a new church tribunal to judge bishops who don’t expose priests guilty of sexual abuse on children, a move considered revolutionary in the Vatican history.

The measure has been long urged by the victims of sexual abuse and their families, given that bishops had often covered up abusive priests.

The Pope faced pressure to act on paedophilia after Chilean Juan Barros and an Australian cardinal George Pell came under scrutiny for having allegedly covered up abuses by other priests – but were nevertheless appointed as bishop and prefect for the secretariat for the economy.

In April, Kansas’ Bishop Robert Finn also faced criticism for failing to report suspected child abuse.

The new court will be part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which already investigates sexual abuses.

The new tribunal, proposed by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created last year, adds to a series of measures taken by Pope Francis to clean-up and reform the Catholic Church, including making its financial operation more transparent and advocating for social and environmental justice rather than “the cult of money”.

Meanwhile, the Catholic world is waiting for the pontiff’s encyclical on the environment, scheduled for June 18, to come out. It is expected to contain a strong call for climate action and economic justice, despite opposition from some US evangelical Christian leaders, who would rather see the Pope out of such issues.

Photo: Gabriel Andrés Trujillo Escobedo via flickr


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Further reading:

Pope Francis: ‘if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us’

Pope Francis: a year in the life of an environmental pope

Pope Francis speaks out against fracking and environmental devastation

Pope Francis says no to an ‘economy of exclusion’

Pope Francis: exploiting the Earth is ‘our sin’