Pope Francis reinforces norms against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

He Pope Francisco signed a new order this Saturday that reinforces the rules on cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

The changes endorsed by the Supreme Pontiff extend the responsibilities also to “lay faithful” who have been moderators of religious associations, in addition to the clergy, reports the agency EFE.

The Holy See published a new version of the “motu proprio” “Vos estis lux mundi” (You are the light of the world), a Vatican norm that since 2019 requires all dioceses in the world to have a system accessible to anyone who wants to carry out a complaint, as well as full protection and assistance to complainants, specifies the Spanish media.

This law was one of Francisco’s proposals to eradicate the plague of abuse within the Church, after holding a historic meeting with representatives of all episcopal conferences.

The new text indicates that these reporting “systems” must now be formalized as “organizations and offices” and specifies that the task of proceeding with the investigation is the duty of the bishop of the place where the reported events occurred, explains the news agency.

In addition to investigating complaints against bishops, religious superiors and clergy, it will also be the responsibility of the Church to study cases referring to “lay faithful who are or have been moderators of international associations of faithful recognized or established by the Apostolic See, for the acts committed » while in office.

Francisco has also included in this norm other modifications that he has been promulgating in recent years, such as the one related to “sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person,” he points out. EFE.

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In the new version, which will enter into force on April 30, there is talk of crimes committed against “a minor or with a person who habitually has an imperfect use of reason or with a vulnerable adult.”

It is also obliged to protect witnesses, and not only the plaintiff, and the part that regulates the presumption of innocence is reinforced by safeguarding “the legitimate protection of the good name and the private sphere of all the people involved”.

In 2019, Francisco promulgated this unprecedented norm that established the procedure to be followed in the dioceses in cases of abuse, recalls the Spanish agency.

Its article 1 applies to all crimes in which “someone is forced, with violence or threat or through abuse of authority, to perform or suffer sexual acts; perform sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person; produce, exhibit, possess or distribute, even by electronic means, child pornographic material”.

It also includes any cases of violence against nuns by clergy, as well as the alleged harassment of seminarians or novices and crimes of cover-up or interference in investigations, the report says.

The rule does not add new penalties but establishes the procedures to be followed and stipulates specific deadlines for handling complaints and preventing cases from dragging on as they have been doing.

Thus, the department informed of the complaint must proceed “without delay and, in any case, within thirty days after receipt of the first report by the pontifical representative.”

In addition, from the beginning to the closing of the preliminary investigations in the diocese, no more than 90 days will have to pass, although the period may be increased for justified reasons, he concludes. EFE.

EFE / OnCuba

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