Immediately after asking bishops and religious superiors to be concrete in confronting the clerical sexual abuse crisis and the need to protect children in the Church, Pope Francis handed them a list of 21 action items to consider.
From publicising the contact information for reporting cases of abuse to co-operating with local law enforcement, the action items were drawn from suggestions made by bishops from around the world, the pope said, and should “assist in our reflection.”
The 21 items are “a simple point of departure,” he said, and “are not meant to detract from the creativity needed in this meeting.”
Several survivors of abuse, however, expressed surprise about and unhappiness with the list.
The first item on the list is ‘to prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges’.
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, who deals with abuse cases for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, later told reporters that his office is preparing such a handbook – in a simple question-and-answer format – and it should be ready for publication within a few months.
The archbishop said the 21 items “govern practically all the aspects of getting it right,” but they must be discussed by summit participants. “These are not decisions taken, otherwise we could go home today.”