Pope eliminates pontifical secret in cases of abuse of minors

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17/12/2019
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This “Instruction on the Confidentiality of Causes” responds to abuse victims' request to the pope: to eliminate the pontifical secret in cases of abuse.

MIGUEL HURTADO
Ending Clergy Abuse
FEBRUARY, 2019
“Pontifical secrecy needs to end. That means not classifying internal investigations on pederasty as 'Top Secret.'”

Victims claim they were marginalized by canonical processes and that they were not told if the alleged abuser was convicted or not.

DAVIDE CITO
Professor of Canonical Penal Law
“Pontifical secrecy should safeguard values, not cover up negligence. We should avoid secrecy if it means preventing negligence or when those responsible are passing on the responsibility to others.”

With the new rule, from now on, both accusations and convictions will be made public. In addition, neither victims nor witnesses can be obligated to remain silent while the process takes place.

MATTEO BRUNI
Vatican Spokesman
“It goes in the direction of greater transparency and, above all, collaboration with civil traditional authorities. There will, of course, be confidentiality in treating this information, but no pontifical secrets when dealing with the pain and wounds of children and minors.”

The new law calls for a guarantee of security, integrity and confidentiality for all parties.

It also reminds that “confidentiality” does “not prevent the fulfillment of the obligations laid down in all places by civil laws,” including the possible obligation to report and “the execution of enforceable requests of civil judicial authorities.”

The pope has modified other aspects.

For example, from now on, the victim's lawyer in a canonical process can be a layperson. Before, the lawyer had to be a priest.

This is yet another gesture displaying sensitivity to anyone having been offended by a priest.

Javier Martínez-Brocal
Translation: Claudia Torres

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