VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Saturday scrapped his proposed tribunal to prosecute bishops who covered up for pedophile priests after it ran into opposition and instead clarified legal procedures to remove them if the Vatican finds they were negligent.
The new procedures sought to answer long-standing demands by survivors of abuse that the Vatican hold bishops accountable for botching abuse cases. Victims have long accused bishops of covering up for pedophiles, moving rapists from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police - and suffering no consequences.
But the new law was immediately criticised by survivors of abuse as essentially window dressing since there were already ways to investigate and dismiss bishops for wrongdoing - they were just rarely used against bishops who failed to protect their flocks from pedophiles.
Analysts suggested the new law was much ado about very little. “There is nothing breaking here: The congregations could already do that,” said Kurt Martens, professor of canon law at The Catholic University of America.
He said what is significant about the new law is that it makes no mention of the original proposal for the tribunal, which would have treated negligence as a crime and prosecuted it as such.
“Does that mean the tribunal isn’t going to come because there was too much opposition?” he asked.