The Holy Father, on June 4, issued the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio Come una madre amorevole. (“Like a loving mother.”) The text is in Italian, and, so far, an English version has not been made available. One anticipates that an English translation will be made available in due course—though, recall that Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus was not made available in English for quite some time after it was promulgated—and one can always obtain a machine translation ad interim. Edward Pentin, of course, has some coverage at the National Catholic Register, where he reports:
In a new Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, entitled “Come una madre amorevole” (As a Loving Mother), the new norms provide for the removal of bishops (or those equivalent to them in Canon Law) from their offices in cases where they have “through negligence, committed or omitted acts that have caused grave harm to others, either with regard to physical persons, or with regard to the community itself.”
The Letter also clarifies in cases of “abuse of minors or vulnerable adults, it is sufficient that the lack of diligence be grave.”
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, said in an explanatory note that the apostolic letter “insists on the importance of vigilant care for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, calling for a ‘particular diligence.”
Therefore, he continued, “it clarifies that negligence regarding cases of sexual abuse committed against children or vulnerable adults are among the ‘grave causes’ that justify removal from ecclesiastical offices, even of bishops.”
(Emphasis supplied and hyperlink omitted.)
For our part, we note that Come una madre amorevole will undoubtedly be represented as establishing a mechanism by which bishops negligent in sex-abuse cases can be removed; however, it is by no means limited to that circumstance. It seems to us that, under Article I, § 1, of the motu proprio, almost any very grave negligence (Art. I, § 2) having a physical, moral, spiritual, or financial effect could result in an a process being initiated (likely in the Congregation for Bishops, Art. II, §§ 1–2).
Imagine the possibilities!