Pope Francis on Tuesday ordered an end to the Benedict XVI order that shielded young, uncatechized Catholics from having to leave the Church.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, because their parents somehow converted to Catholicism without being catechized,” Francis said in a written statement. “But we must also recognize that we are Church of opportunity because we are a Church of canon laws.”
The statement was released just hours after Francis asked the head of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura Cardinal Dominique Mamberti to write to bishops around the world informing them that the Church would no longer protect uncatechized Catholics.
Vatican officials say that close to 100,000 current beneficiaries of the program who were brought into the Church without consent of a diocese as children, would eventually have to find another church, or to sign up for RCIA classes.
“Only by the reliable enforcement of canon law can we produce safe dioceses and spiritual fairness for all Catholics,” Francis went on to say in his statement.
“I understand that this is difficult. Many of those who will be asked to leave are adults now, and perhaps aren’t even aware that their parents left another church to become Catholic. Some of them will have to return to the ecclesial communities that they came from until they sign up for RCIA classes and are properly confirmed.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict told EOTT this morning that Francis had singled out young people that could one day potentially be priests or nuns for “a punishment they did not deserve.”
“To target these young people is wrong because they have done nothing wrong,” Benedict said. “It is self-flagellating because they want to start new ministries, staff our apostolates, serve in the Knights of Columbus, and otherwise contribute to the Church we love. And it is cruel.”