Vos estis lux mundi: You Are The Light Of The World, is the title of a motu proprio issued today by Pope Francis. With this document, the Holy Father demonstrates that he is taking decisive action to put in place universal norms to address the scourge of sexual abuse of minors and its cover up. Below is a brief summary of the significant points:
Many people questioned what, if any concrete measures would be implemented following the February conference held in Rome. At that time, the Holy Father called for “concrete” measures to fight sexual abuse. After a first reading of Vos estis lux Mundi I am quite pleased not only with the speed in which the Holy See has responded following the February conference, but also with the specificity of these new norms.
Today’s Motu Proprio sends a clear message to the world, especially the members of the Church, that no matter one’s office in the Church, everyone will be held accountable for any misconduct with minors or vulnerable adults, as well as for the manner in which the Church (bishops especially) responds to victims.
We as Church in the United States are grateful for the clear guidance we have with the Charter For The Protection Of Children And Young People, and especially grateful for the good results it is yielding in reducing occurrences of abuse of minors. Today’s publication of “You are the light of the world” now gives clear and universal instruction for holding bishops accountable for their responsibility “to follow closely the path of the Divine Master.”
Pope Francis also points out another significant and necessary element in changing the culture of the Church. “In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church, so that personal sanctity and moral commitment can contribute to promoting the full credibility of the Gospel message and the effectiveness of the Church’s mission.”