Pope Issues Law that All Priests and Nuns Must Report Sexual Abuse

It is not mandatory to report crimes to local police

A revolutionary new edict by Pope Francis forces all Catholic nuns and priests to report sexual abuse and any cover-up of the same to higher church authorities . Reports must be presented even if the wrongs were committed by higher echelons in the church hierarchy, like cardinals and bishops. The pope pledges complete protection to whistleblowers. It also needs dioceses to put in place a system which can accept claims in a confidential manner. This newly introduced law can be applied retroactively. It is anticipated the Vatican will now receive a fresh barrage of revelations and abuse allegations. The law also outlines a particular set of procedures when it comes to conducting preliminary investigations if the accused holds superior church rank like a cardinal or a bishop. This law also compels the 660,000 religious sisters and 415,000 Catholic priests to become reporters.

This new law is the latest effort mounted by the pope to give a proper response to the international sex abuse and its consequential cover-up scandal which has torn to shreds the credibility of the Catholic command structure. It has also cast shadow on its own papacy. The new law offers legal framework for use by U.S. bishops as they prepare for the adoption of account measures in June. The move is a response to the American scandals.

Priests and nuns must inform church authorities if they have credible motives or learn that a sister or cleric has participated in sexual abuse of any minor, or sexual misconduct with an adult, or possession of child pornography. The new law, however, does not make it compulsory for the church authorities to report the matter to local law enforcement. According to the Holy See, doing so will endanger Catholics in countries where they are persecuted for their beliefs. However, the new law is a universal one according to the church and authorities must report all civil reporting needs where they need. The obligation to report to church does not interfere in matters like these.

There is also another first from the Francis regime in the Vatican. The pope has mandated that victims reporting abuse should be welcomed and listened too by the church hierarchy. It should also offer psychological, medical, and spiritual assistance.

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