Strengthened clerical abuse guidelines welcome, but much still to be done

Strengthened clerical abuse guidelines
Title: Strengthened clerical abuse guidelines welcome, but much still to be done
Author: Paula Jefferson
Publisher: The Irish News
Date: 27AUG2020
The Vatican, under the direct intervention of Pope Francis, has strengthened its guidance to bishops on how the Catholic Church should combat clerical abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. Paula Jefferson of law firm BLM outlines the changes.

NEW guidelines from the Vatican advise that clerical sex abuse claims should be reported to the police and civil authorities.

The Vatican office responsible for investigating sexual abuse of minors committed by clerics, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has published new guidelines in the form of a manual for bishops and other senior officials setting out clear and detailed rules on how to deal with clerical child sex abuse claims.

This manual, which was circulated on July 16, has been drawn up at the express request of Pope Francis who called for procedures to be laid out step-by-step to avoid any further confusion in the area.

Pope Francis has made the fight against clerical child sexual abuse and its cover-up a priority of his pontificate.

He called for “a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges”.

The manual (which includes a form to be filled out detailing the alleged crime against the minors involved) does not include any new laws, but paragraph 17 of the guidelines state: “Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.”

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