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Vatican issues guidelines to Churches to deal with crime of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy

Vatican: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued today a manual to help bishops and dioceses follow Church procedure in respect to accusations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric.

The vademecum, released July 16, is one of the last documents promised by the Vatican following its February 2019 Summit on Sexual Abuse.

The handbook does not issue new norms or make alterations to current Church law, but is intended as a guide for bishops, dioceses, and religious communities on how to follow Church procedure in sex abuse cases.

Abuse of a minor by a cleric is considered by the Church to be a grave delict (graviora delicta), or crime. The disciplinary measures for grave delicts are the competence of the CDF.

According to the vademecum’s introduction, “the present manual is meant to serve as a handbook for those charged with ascertaining the truth in such criminal cases, leading them step-by-step from the notitia criminis (notice that a crime is alleged to have occurred) to the definitive conclusion of the case.”

The introduction states that use of the manual is encouraged “since a standardized praxis will contribute to a better administration of justice.”

The handbook addresses topics such as: What must be done when information is received about possible abuse of a minor by a cleric; how to carry out a preliminary investigation; and how to inform and pass information to the CDF about the preliminary investigation.

It also covers what the CDF can be expected to do after receiving the information from the preliminary investigation, called “acts,” as well as listing the possible outcomes of a case.

“It is hoped that this handbook will assist Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Episcopal Conferences and the various ecclesiastical circumscriptions to better understand and implement the requirements of justice regarding a delictum gravius that constitutes for the whole Church a profound and painful wound that cries out for healing,” the manual states. representative R Joseph Kennedy who is also the General Secretary of the All India Christian Forum was a part of the delegation of Ending Clergy Abuse that presented India scenario on clergy sexual abuse to representatives of the Vatican during the Vatican interaction with global activist groups fight against clergy abuse.



Savio Rodrigues

Savio Rodrigues Founder & Editor-in-Chief
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