May 10, 2020
By Christopher Altieri
Conflicting claims have emerged over the way an investigation into a former auxiliary bishop in the US Archdiocese of Cincinnati was handled, casting further doubt over Church leaders’ commitment to the “responsibility, accountability, and transparency” supposed to be the watchwords of ecclesiastical efforts to combat abuse and coverup in the Francis era.
Pope Francis accepted Bishop Joseph Binzer’s resignation on Thursday, more than nine months after an investigation was opened into claims Binzer negligently handled allegations against a Cincinnati priest, of inappropriate behaviour with teenaged boys.
There are, in short, at least two different versions of how Church authorities handled the investigation. One version is from the Archbishop of Cincinnati, the other is from Rome. The two stories do not match.
The question the apparent discrepancy raises, is whether the Vatican used Pope Francis’s signature reform law, Vos estis lux mundi, designed to combat clerical abuse and especially abuse coverup, in order to investigate Bishop Binzer, on whose case the law seems tailor-made for use. For that reason, alone, question speaks directly to responsibility and accountability in hierarchical leadership culture.
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