December 2019: Pope Francis eliminates pontifical secret in cases of abuse of minors

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Pope Francis began the month of December with a visit to the town of Greccio.

It's a very special place because it is where St. Francis set up the first Nativity scene in history.

For that same reason, the pope signed a letter there on the Nativity scene tradition.

“This simple and visible sign of the Nativity, which faith has grasped and passed from generation to generation, shows the great mystery of our faith: God loves us to the point of sharing our humanity and our life. He never leaves us alone.”

In Rome this month, the pope celebrated three Masses for national communities.

He celebrated this Mass to pray for the Congolese community in Rome.

With this other one, he and the Filipino community inaugurated the traditional Aguinaldo Masses.

On the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he prayed with Latinos living in Rome.

The most important event of the month was the pope's decision to eliminate the pontifical secret in cases of abuse of minors.

For years, victims have expressed feeling marginalized by canonical proceedings. They said they were never told whether or not alleged abusers were convicted.

With the new norm, both accusations and convictions will be made public.

In addition, victims and witnesses can no longer be obligated to remain silent.

Vatican spokesperson
“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 decision also requires documents on abuse to be handed over when requested by civil judicial authorities.

December is the month of Christmas. At the Vatican, it starts with the illumination of the Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square...

...and of the giant, 85-foot tall tree with thousands of colorful lights to remind people that light will vanquish darkness.

Javier Martínez-Brocal
Translation: Claudia Torres

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