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Sexual Abuse of Minors: Vatican requires Episcopal Conferences to take new action

2011-05-16

Fr. Federico Lombardi
Vatican spokesman

"The purpose of the document is to provide a lowest common denominator of principles that all the Episcopal Conferences should include in their policies when dealing with cases of sexual abuse."

The Vatican’s document is a letter that’s already in the hands of all the Episcopal Conferences.

Although it doesn’t include any new, substantial developments, it reiterates the policies of Pope Benedict XVI to all Catholic bishops. This includes listening to all  victims of sexual abuse, repairing the damage and bringing guilty priests to justice.

The document also highlights that only bishops have the sole responsibility of dealing with cases of sexual abuse committed in their diocese.

Therefore, they must listen to anyone who wants to report a case of this nature. Then, they must  take action against those priests or even employees of Catholic institutions who allegedly abused minors.

A new guideline states that all bishops should help parents and priests detect when a minor is being sexually abused.

Fr. Federico Lombardi
Vatican Spokesman
"Bishops should find ways to recognize when a child is being abused. Parents and religious entities should  also be trained on how to detect and deal with these situations.”

Once again, the Vatican ordered all bishops to monitor and improve the preparation of future priests. It emphasized that those who don’t meet these conditions should be  expelled from the seminary.

In addition, the document shows that from now on, future priests should be aware of the lasting and severe pain faced by victims of sexual abuse. It’s also clear, that priest who ignore these rules will face canon and civil penalties.

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