Pope Francis issued a groundbreaking law Thursday requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by their superiors to church authorities, in an important new effort to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable for failing to protect their flocks. Pete Suratos reports. Pope Francis issued a groundbreaking law Thursday requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by their superiors to church authorities, in a new effort to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable for failing to protect their flocks.
The papal change in Church law, covering abuse of children and adults alike, also obliges every diocese worldwide to set up simple, accessible reporting systems within a year and spurs local churches to involve lay experts in investigations. Although such systems are already in place in some countries including the United States, they are lacking in many others. Before, it was just a matter of individual conscience as to whether to report cases.
ROME — Pope Francis has issued a highly anticipated law for Vatican City officials and diplomats overseas to tackle sexual abuse, setting up what is intended to be a model for the Roman Catholic Church worldwide by requiring, for the first time, that accusations be immediately reported to Vatican prosecutors. The Vatican characterized the law — and accompanying pastoral guidelines — as a reflection of the most advanced thinking on preventing and addressing sexual abuse in the church. The law, dated March 26, calls on church authorities to listen immediately to people who say they are victims and to report any credible allegations to prosecutors.
It ended with a Colombian cardinal warning them they could all face prison if they let such crimes go unpunished. In between, Pope Francis began charting a new course for the Catholic Church to confront clergy sexual abuse and cover-up, a scandal that has consumed his papacy and threatens the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy at large. Opening a first-ever Vatican summit on preventing abuse, Francis warned bishops and religious superiors on Thursday that their flocks were demanding concrete action, not just words, to punish predator priests and keep children safe. He offered them 21 proposals to consider going forward, some of them obvious and easy to adopt, others requiring new laws.
Vanessa Romo. Pope Francis, pictured earlier this week, unveiled a new mandatory-reporting edict on Friday. It requires any Vatican official who learns of an allegation of abuse within the city-state or by Vatican officials to report it to Vatican prosecutors.
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Created ina now infamous document was issued in secret to bishops. Called Crimen Sollicitationis, it outlined procedures to be followed by bishops when dealing with allegations of child abuse, homosexuality and bestiality by members of the clergy. It swore all parties involved to secrecy on pain of excommunication from the Catholic Church.
Cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priestsnuns and members of religious orders in the 20th and 21st centuries have led to many allegations, investigations, trials and convictions as well as revelations about decades of attempts by the Church to cover up reported incidents. During Pope Francis' visit to Chile in Januaryhe defended a Chilean bishop from charges of sexual abuse, stating that accusations without evidence was simply slander. The massive public outcry in response to Francis' words prompted him to open a new Vatican investigation into the case, assigning Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna to the task.
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Two sisters who say they were sexually abused by a Pennsylvania priest in the s express their disappointment in the Vatican's summit on the church's sex abuse crisis. A groundbreaking new Vatican law requires that all Catholic priests and nuns around the world report all clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by their superiors to church authorities. In a new Apostolic letter, Pope Francis made it clear that any sexual advance involving the use of power will now be considered abusive. It is his latest effort 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.