Letter and spirit: Using universal law to guide local churches on abuse

Catholic News Service via Crux

May 24, 2019

By Carol Glatz

Pope Francis’s latest effort to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable came in the form of a new universal law, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), which takes effect June 1.

Like all universal legislation, the papal document had to factor in the vast diversity of cultures and traditions of the more than 200 countries where the Church is present, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s top abuse investigator, told reporters the day the document was released in May.

It had to strike a balance of being clear and precise, but not so narrow that “it would be inoperative. You need something that can be flexible enough to work,” the archbishop said.

But as Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, the order’s superior, warned during the safeguarding summit at the Vatican in February, the Church also must never use its “multicultural reality” to justify, excuse or ignore abuse. No matter the culture or local attitudes, the fundamental principle guiding everyone must be to follow the Gospel message, always and everywhere, bringing to light the truth that sets everyone free, he said.

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