Pope Francis’ new norms on protecting minors and strengthening accountability are the latest steps in driving home the message that the days of keeping abuse allegations covered up or ignored are over, said the Vatican’s top abuse investigator.
In the past, some people may have thought they were protecting the Church by remaining silent, but that behaviour was never acceptable, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told reporters.
“The good of the Church requires condemnation” to the proper authorities when it comes to abuse of minors and abuses of power, he said.
The archbishop spoke to reporters about Pope Francis’ latest apostolic letter, “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) at a news conference at the Vatican on 9th May. The new document establishes and clarifies norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable when it comes to safeguarding minors as well as abuses carried out against adults with violence, threats or an abuse of authority.
The new norms are important, Archbishop Scicluna said, because they clearly tell people they have an obligation to report already existing crimes, negligence and inappropriate behaviour to Church authorities.
That obligation “has always been there, but experience shows us that either a closed-shop mentality or a misplaced interest in protecting the institution was hindering disclosure,” he said.
Picture: Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta speaks at a news conference presenting Pope Francis’ new document, “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) at the Vatican on 9th May 2019. The document, which goes into effect on 1st June, establishes and clarifies norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse. (CNS Photo/Robert Duncan).