Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Blessings to you in this joyful season of Easter. In keeping with my pledge to update you on the Church’s efforts regarding safeguarding of children, I want to share an important step taken by Pope Francis. This past Friday he published an executive order mandating that all bishops implement a new universal law requiring all dioceses and religious orders to report abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The new law provides a process for investigating abuse by any member of the hierarchy, including cardinals, bishops and priests as well as religious men and women. There is also a process for investigating the mishandling of such cases by bishops. Now, all bishops’ conferences and religious congregations in every country around the world will have to meet more rigorous standards.
This unprecedented development comes less than three months after the Holy Father’s meeting in Rome with all religious superiors and presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. On that occasion the Pope promised concrete action. The announcement today, along with the norms he published earlier for the Vatican City State, demonstrate his resolve to put an end to cover ups and take decisive action to rid the Church of the scourge of abuse of minors. For your convenience, you can read the full statement the archdiocese released on the law. I invite you to share this information with your family members and friends. As I noted in that statement: “While this new law validates many of the procedures already in place in the Archdiocese of Chicago and in the United States, it provides a framework for the bishops in this country to adopt measures at our June meeting that will both implement the Pope’s executive order and address the issue of holding everyone in the Church accountable.”
As our auxiliary bishops and I prepare to attend that meeting in a few weeks, I pledge to you once again that I will do my best to see that our response in June, as well as our ongoing efforts in this regard, are marked by responsibility, accountability and transparency.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Chicago