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Vademecum on sexual abuse: not a law, but a manual with room for updates

In the vademecum on cases of sexual abuse, there are still improvements to be made. That's according to Fr. Jordi Bertomeu, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who in 2018 was sent to Chile alongside Msgr. Charles Scicluna, to investigate the Church's sexual abuse scandal. Their work prompted the pope to change the Church's approach to dealing with this challenge.

In a virtual conference organized by Mexico's Center for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), he said the document still contains some gaps. For example, it doesn't say that victims must be notified of any security measures taken against an accused priest, a distressing reality for victims. He also says some of the document's affirmations are too generic, citing the example that a bishop must report a priest to authorities “if this is considered necessary.”

Bertomeu also emphasized the urgent need for more experts in penal and canon law.

Representatives of all Latin American dioceses participated in the webinar. Among the speakers were Msgr. Charles Scicluna, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

The vademecum was published on July 16. It's a tool to help bishops act in accordance with the Church's new laws against sexual abuse and to serve justice in their dioceses. These laws were the result of the global summit on the protection of minors in February 2019.

Javier Romero
Translation: CT