The Latest: US Catholics welcome abuse reporting protocol

The Latest on new church laws regarding sex abuse reporting issued Thursday by Pope Francis (all times local):

4 p.m.

The head of the U.S. bishops conference is welcoming Pope Francis' new church law about reporting clergy sex abuse and investigating bishops for cover-ups.

Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo says the edict is a "blessing that will empower the church everywhere to bring predators to justice no matter what rank they hold in the church."

The law now forces the U.S. conference to essentially start over in preparing new measures to hold one another accountable when bishops abuse or cover-up abuse. The conference has been working on those measures since last year, and had been due to adopt them at a meeting in June.

In a statement, DiNardo says U.S. committees are already working on preparing measures to implement the new law.

Francis' protocol outlines procedures to investigate accused bishops using a "metropolitan bishop" who can be assisted by lay experts.

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12 noon

Pope Francis has issued a new law requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities, in a groundbreaking new effort to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable for failing to protect their flocks.

The church law published Thursday provides whistle-blower protections for anyone making a report and requires all dioceses around the world to have a system in place to receive the claims confidentially. And it outlines procedures for conducting preliminary investigations when the accused is a bishop, cardinal or religious superior.

It's the latest effort by Francis to respond to the global eruption of the sex abuse and cover-up scandal that has devastated the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy and his own papacy.