Vatican should give reasons when a bishop is sacked

Secrecy is out – the Vatican should give reasons when it sacks a bishop.

Both Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich and Malta’s Archbishop Charles Scicluna say the Vatican should begin disclosing the reasons for a Catholic prelate’s removal from office.

Cupich and Scicluna organised last week’s summit on child protection.

“I think if a person is removed from office the reason should be given why,” said Cupich, speaking in an interview earlier this week at the Pontifical North American College.

“There is no reason that should not be the case.”

On Tuesday Scicluna spoke about the potential change at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the past “there was a resistance to giving the real reason or the reasons.

“That needs to change,” he said.

Cupich and Scicluna’s comments signal a potentially significant policy change for the global church.

They indicated the procedures Pope Francis developed in 2016 to initiate the removal of bishops found negligent in clergy abuse cases may be updated to make them more transparent.

They also said they hope the involvement of 12 women during last week’s meeting would set a standard for the growing participation of women at future Vatican meetings, including synods of bishops.

Scicluna said a bishop’s removal might be due to reports sent to Rome from the prelate’s diocese or his national conference.

People have a right to know the outcome of their report, he said.

At the moment, the Vatican does not give any reason when a bishop is removed from office. Instead, an announcement is made in the Vatican’s daily bulletin, saying the prelate has “renounced pastoral governance” of his diocese.

Although the Vatican formerly identifies the church canon under which a bishop has resigned, until September 2016 observers could only make an educated guess about the reasons behind the resignation.

Abuse survivors and advocates have long argued that giving the reasons for bishops’ resignations would act as an incentive for prelates to handle abuse cases according to procedure.

“I believe that if a bishop has been removed for incompetence — financial, his administration, or whatever — those things should be said,” Cupich said.



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