Pope Francis (R) inspects an honor guard upon his arrival in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, 25 May 2014. Pope Francis arrived in the West Bank to start the most delicate part of his stay in the Middle East, with visits to the Palestinian Territories and Israel.
Pope Francis (R) inspects an honor guard upon his arrival in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, 25 May 2014. Pope Francis arrived in the West Bank to start the most delicate part of his stay in the Middle East, with visits to the Palestinian Territories and Israel. EPA - Alaa Badarneh

New Vatican department judges bishops covering up abuse

POPE Francis has approved a new Vatican department which will judge bishops accused of covering up or not preventing sexual abuse of children.

A statement from the Vatican said the department would come under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors".

The new department is being reported as "a breakthrough moment on an issue that has plagued the church globally".

The changes establish clear procedures to make bishops more accountable for abuse in their dioceses, even if they were not directly responsible for it and could also see bishops judged if they had failed to take measures to prevent sexual abuse of minors.

CEO of the Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan said the call to hold bishops and church leaders accountable has been loud and clear for many years.

"This move by the Pope places Church leaders around the world and here in Australia on notice that they have a role to do in responding to and preventing child sexual abuse and that if they fail they will be judged and possibly lose their jobs.

"The Pope has now made it very clear no one within the Church will be protected if they have done the wrong thing," Mr Sullivan said.



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