The Vatican on Thursday released guidelines for investigating suspected sexual abuse of minors in the church. The documents constitute an “instrument” intended to assist priests in “conducting activities” involving religious people.
The Catholic Church now has guidelines for investigating suspected sexual abuse of minors. At the initiative of Pope Francis, the Vatican issued rules on Thursday, July 16, for the procedure to be followed in this type of situation, intended for priests.
The Argentine pope, who made the fight against this hostage one of the priorities of his pontificate, convened a new summit in February 2019, bringing together in particular 114 representatives of bishopric conferences.
On this occasion, he undertook to “provide uniform directives for the Church” and to provoke, above all, legal references that already applied at the civil and canonical level.
In fact, the documents published on Thursday do not propose new standards, nor are they intended to replace the justice of the Catholic Church for the legal process, the Vatican emphasizes.
A form for reporting crimes
“They are compiled as a” vade-mecum “and constitute an” instrument “intended to assist the local authorities of the Church” in the sensitive task of dealing with matters involving deacons, priests and bishops when accused of abusing minors, “it said. Spanish Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, Head of the Congregation for the Faith in Rome, in a statement.
In particular, the Vatican has established a form of crime reporting. The notified official must provide information on the suspect’s priest, his various ministries, the date of the events and the name of the alleged victim or victims, the actions of the ecclesiastical authorities, and in criminal proceedings, the names of the ecclesiastical prosecutors and lawyers seized.
The Church has been in turbulence for several years with successive revelations of massive pedophile abuse scandals committed for decades by priests or religious and often covered by their hierarchy in several countries, especially in the United States, Chile or Germany.
In France, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was convicted in 2019 for his silence over the actions of a former priest in his diocese of Lyons, Bernard Preynat, himself convicted of sexually abusing minors.
But Bishop Barbarin was subsequently released on appeal in January last year before resigning as archbishop in March.
>> See: “Sexual abuse in the church: speech becomes free”
The recently unveiled pontifical secret
Pope Francis, according to whom these exaggerations make the clergy “an instrument of Satan”, had taken another step in December last year by revealing the Pontifical secret, while maintaining a minimum of secrecy.
Once this secret has ceased, complaints, testimonies and dismissals must now be brought to justice.
However, the sovereign pause has repeatedly confirmed that there is an impossible limit to be exceeded: the confession of the confession remains absolute, which therefore precludes the termination of facts reported by a believer in that confession.