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Rome Reports

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Vatican explains how to act in cases of abuse

One of the problems of the abuse scandal by clergy in the Catholic Church is when the victim tells the bishop what happened, he does not then know how to proceed.

Therefore, time is wasted that could be used to find justice for the victim and poor decisions are made that compromise the validity of the process.

To avoid this, the Vatican published this manual in six languages to explain how bishops should act.

Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
“Many times they ask us, 'What should I do?' That is why we thought, and had been asked numerous times to make a practical guide for a bishop or superior who has to manage this problem. So he knows how to proceed and what to do in the different stages.”

The steps were known, but the attitude in which they are put into practice is more important.

For example, every complaint should be investigated and the victim asked to also report to the police.

If the accused cleric is found to be committing abuse, the bishop must also report him to the police.

The accused member of the clergy should not be transferred to a different city or parish: the victim and his relatives cannot be asked to remain silent; and they should be updated about how the process is going.

“We cannot leave victims in the dark. We must inform them on how the process ended. If not, it is a lack of respect for the victim. We have said we admire their courage for speaking, but they must also be looked after at the end of the process.”

Charles Scicluna is one of the text's main authors.

The document was requested by bishops from around the world, who attended the February 2019 Summit Against Abuse in Rome, organized by Pope Francis.

Javier Martínez-Brocal

Translation: Melissa Butz