Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Bishop Knestout Statement on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter

May 10, 2019

I welcome Pope Francis’ recent apostolic letter “Vos estis lux mundi,” issued Motu proprio, regarding the crime of sexual abuse. It further expresses his firm commitment to protecting children, young adults and the vulnerable from being sexually abused by church personnel, and it reiterates his expectation that care for victims and their families will always be a priority for Church leaders.

Two additional points in the statement are worth noting: the pope’s delineation of accountability by the bishops in dealing with cases of sexual abuse by church personnel, and the expediency with which our Holy Father expects these matters to be addressed. These are concerns that have repeatedly been expressed by victims and other members of the faithful. We are encouraged that our Holy Father has specifically addressed them in this apostolic letter.

I am grateful that Pope Francis has stated, “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.”

We will strive for that conversion and take the action it requires for us — victims and the entire church — to continue healing from the sins of the abusers.