Pope Francis affirms anti-abuse rules, and responsibility extends to the general public

After nearly four years of trials, Pope Francis has issued measures to prevent and combat the phenomenon of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. The new version of “Vos estis lux mundi” with new ownership was published today and will go into effect on April 30th. The most important novelty is the extension of the rules concerning the responsibility of bishops and religious also to the laity and especially “those who are or have been the supreme overseers of institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life of the papal right, as well as monasteries of a particular nature, for acts committed during” the lay faithful who were or were They were directors of international associations of the faithful recognized or instituted by the Holy See, for acts committed during the simple life.”

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The new provisions overturn previous rulings dating back to 2019, reaffirm the will to continue to fight abuse and, in reference to victims, in addition to minors, refer to “any person in a state of physical or mental infirmity”. The deficiency or deprivation of personal liberty which in fact, and even at times, limits the capacity to understand, to desire, or in any way to resist crime.”

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The document explains the procedure for the investigation, according to which “the metropolitan who receives the report from the relevant directorate without delay orders the task of starting the investigation.” Thereafter, the Directorate shall apply immediately and in any event within thirty days of receipt of the first report. The Bishop shall, as soon as he has obtained a concession from the appropriate Directorate, “in person or through one or more suitable persons, collect relevant information as to the facts; and have access to information and documents necessary for investigative purposes preserved in the archives of the Church” offices; and obtain the co-operation of other official bodies or heads of bodies, when necessary; and shall request information, if it deems appropriate and consistent with the provisions, from persons and institutions, including civil institutions, capable of providing items useful for the investigation.” particularly those relating to any reporting obligations to the appropriate civil authorities.”

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