Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 17, 2020 / 07:52 am
The Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops has ordered an investigation into Bishop Oscar Cantu’s handling of allegations of clerical sexual abuse and misconduct. The investigation is being carried out under the provisions of Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 law for holding bishops accountable in the handling of sexual abuse cases.
Senior sources in the Vatican told CNA that the investigation was ordered by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, in October and that the allegations concern Cantu’s handling of abuse and misconduct cases in his former diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Cantu is now Bishop of San Jose, California.
One senior official in the Vatican congregation, who spoke to CNA on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential, said that Pope Francis has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy with regard to American bishops’ handling of clerical sexual misconduct.
“The Holy Father is absolutely firm that cases of abuse will not be tolerated. He is also firm that bishops must treat all of these cases with complete seriousness,” the official said.
The official went on to note that while the recently published report on the career of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been met with criticism in some media quarters, it would be wrong to assume no lessons have been learned from McCarrick’s case.
“The report on Theodore McCarrick was very long: long as a report and long in making the report,” he said. “The idea that past failings have not been identified and learned from is simply not true – work is being done, the new process is being applied.”
The investigation into Bishop Cantu concerns alleged actions or inactions in cases of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Las Cruces, where Cantu served as bishop from 2013 to 2018.
Vatican officials confirmed to CNA that the investigation is being carried out under the terms of Article 1, §1, b of Vos estis, which concerns “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical investigations, whether administrative or penal, against a cleric or a religious” in cases of sexual abuse.