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US resignations indicate hierarchy being made accountable for actions

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who resigned his position amid charges that the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis in the US failed to protect children from a sexually abusive priest. Photograph: Reuters/Rick Wilking

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who resigned his position amid charges that the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis in the US failed to protect children from a sexually abusive priest. Photograph: Reuters/Rick Wilking

Anyone who has doubts as to the severity of the “Francis revolution” currently blowing through the Vatican should probably take a look at last Monday’s Bollettino or news bulletin from the Holy See press office. Two items make for significant reading.

Firstly, the Holy See confirms that the pope has accepted the resignations of the Archbishop and Auxiliary Bishop of the diocese of St Paul and Minneapolis in the United States,and Lee Piché respectively.

They announced their departures less than two weeks after prosecutors in St Paul accused the archdiocese of wilfully ignoring warning signs of a paedophile priest.

Trial of former nuncio

The bulletin also announced that the former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Polish archbishop Jósef Wesolowski, is to stand trial next month in a Vatican City court on charges related to alleged sex abuse.

Essentially, the pope’s hard line is making itself felt. The two US bishops have been forced to resign because of an alleged cover-up or failure to correctly handle a sex-abuser priest in their diocese.

The former nuncio, already laicised by a canon law court last year for child sex abuse offences, is being pursued by the Vatican’s state jurisdiction.

All three cases follow on from the historic announcement 10 days ago that the Vatican is to create a new tribunal at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, intended to try bishops accused of either personal or administrative misdemeanours in relation to sex abuse allegations.

The principle of bishops’ accountability would seem to have arrived in the Holy See.