On May 7, 2019, Pope Francis enacted what likely will prove to be his papacy’s most sweeping and concrete response to the Catholic abuse crisis: new universal church rules about reporting sexual abuse and cover-up. The Pope said he created Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You Are the Light of the World) in collaboration with the world’s leading bishops and heads of religious institutes, whom the Pope had convened for an ‘abuse summit’ three months earlier, in early 2019.
Vos estis, as it’s commonly called, is the Pope’s response to overwhelming public demand that bishops and religious superiors be held accountable for stopping sexual violence by clergy.
As of March 15, 2023, nearly four years after the law was promulgated, neither the Vatican nor Pope Francis had given a public accounting of its impact. BishopAccountability.org is therefore publishing its own list.
To date, we have identified 40 bishops worldwide who have been investigated, or who possibly have been investigated, under Vos estis, usually after their alleged misdeeds have generated media coverage. We have culled these names from news reports around the globe.
This is a work in progress. In the near future, we will publishing a more in-depth version of this list, with links to sources. In the meantime, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any corrections or additions. Many thanks!
Bishops investigated under Vos estis lux mundi because of sexual abuse allegations
- Bishop Carlos Belo, Timor-Leste – CASE ONGOING
Sanctioned in 2020 for sexual abuse of minors, but the Vatican kept his crimes secret. Belo is supposedly under a fresh Vatican investigation, presumably under Vos estis, in the wake of a shocking media exposé in the fall of 2022.
- Bishop Jean-Pierre Blais, Canada – CASE ONGOING
Publicly accused in December 2022 of sexually abusing a 12-year-old in the 1970s. According to the Québec archdiocese, the allegation was reported to church superiors in compliance with Vos estis lux mundi.
- Bishop John B. Brungardt, United States – “CLEARED”
Accused of child sexual abuse, stepped down from his position as bishop of Dodge City KS, and resumed office a year later, after prosecutors declined to charge him and the Vatican decided there was no evidence he had abused. See more.
- Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, United States – “CLEARED”
Faced two allegations of child sexual abuse although not criminally charged. Vatican decided there was no semblance of truth to the allegations and no canonical process was necessary. Click here for details.
- Bishop Charles Edward Drennan, New Zealand – SANCTIONED
Sanctioned for sexually abusing women. Click here for details.
- Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet, O.F.M., France – CASE ONGOING
Admitted publicly to sexually abusing a woman in the 1980s and stated that he is under both criminal and canonical investigation. Presumed to be a Vos estis case. Click here for details.
- Bishop Edward Grosz, United States – CASE ONGOING
Sued by the NY AG in 2020 for mishandling accused priests when he was Buffalo auxiliary bishop, but Vos estis process seemingly wasn’t triggered until 2021, when he was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a minor. Click here for details.
- Bishop Robert Guglielmone, United States – “CLEARED”Accused in a 2019 lawsuit of sexually abusing a child when he was a priest in Rockville Centre NY. Vatican declared him not guilty in 2020. Click here for details.
- Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, Poland – SANCTIONED
Accused of sexually abusing minors. Click here for details.
- Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, United States – CASE ONGOING
Accused of sexually abusing at least ten children. Click here for details.
- Bishop Emmanuel Lafont, French Guyana – SANCTIONED
Accused of sexually abusing adults. Click here for details.
- Bishop Marek Mendyk, Poland – CASE ONGOING
Accused recently of sexually abusing a child. Remains in office but reportedly is under investigation by Vatican. Click here for more.
- Archbishop John Nienstedt, United States – CASE ONGOING
Accused of cover-up and of sexually abusing semanarians and minors. Click here for details.
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Canada and Vatican City – “CLEARED”
Accused by two women of sexually abusing them as young adults. One of the women received a letter from Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, archbishop of Québec, stating that the allegation had been reported and investigated as required by Vos estis. Pope Francis deemed both allegations unworthy of a full investigation.
- Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, France – CASE ONGOING
Admitted November 2022 to sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in the late 1980s, when he was a priest. We’re presuming he’s under a Vos estis investigation although there has been no official confirmation of this.
- Bishop Michel Santier, France – CASE ONGOING
- Bishop Christopher Saunders, Australia – CASE ONGOING
Accused of sexually abusing young men. Click here for more detail.
- Bishop Jan Szkodoń, Poland – “CLEARED”
The Vatican chided him for imprudence but did not find him guilty of alleged child abuse. Click here for details.
Bishops recently investigated under Vos estis lux mundi or a similar process because of allegations of negligent or complicit handling of abuse cases
- Bishop Joseph Binzer, United States – SANCTIONED FOR FAILURE TO REPORT ALLEGATION TO CHURCH SUPERIOR (Note: It’s not clear this was a Vos Estis case)
- Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, Germany – CASE ONGOING
- Bishop Oscar Cantu, United States – CASE ONGOING
- Bishop Raymond Chappetto, United States – CASE ONGOING
- Archbishop Andrzej Dzięga, Poland – CASE ONGOING
- Bishop Andrzej Dziuba, Poland – CASE ONGOING
- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Poland “CLEARED”
Note: This likely was not a Vos Estis case
- Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Poland – “CLEARED”
- Archbishop Slawoj Glodz, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Archbishop Marian Golebiewski, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Michael Hoeppner, United States – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Edward Janiak, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, United States – CASE ONGOING
- Bishop Stanislaw Napierala, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Stefan Regmunt, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Carlos Sevilla, S.J., United States – RECEIVED A VATICAN “REPROOF”
- Bishop Richard Stika, United States – CASE ONGOING
- Archbishop Wiktor Skworc, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Henryk Tomasik, Poland – SANCTIONED
- Bishop Jan Tyrawa, Poland – SANCTIONED