Pope’s New Vatican Law Punishes Vatican Employees For Not Denouncing Abuse

Tags: Currents, Pope Francis

Currents News Staff

The new Vatican laws extend to all Holy See and nunciature employees, with fines up to 5,000 euros, and jail time of up to six months.

After the February Summit on Sexual abuse, Pope Francis has taken action, creating new laws in Vatican City State demanding that sexual abuse claims be immediately reported.

For the first time, Vatican law enforces not reporting alleged sexual crimes with fines up to 5,000 euros, and jail time of up to six months. The only exception to this is if it was heard in confession under the sacramental seal.

The Vatican’s new three-text legislation applies only to the Vatican City-State and its youth seminary, but stand as an example for bishops worldwide on how to implement rules to protect minors and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse.

“It’s a matter of changing the attitude, and this is much more difficult than changing a law and thinking that it is the solution. It’s necessary to have an invested and proactive will to put the spirit of the law into practice.” said Hans Zollner, President, Center for Child Protection, Pont. Gregorian University.

The first text is the new law. It legally equates minors with vulnerable adults, providing thefirst-ever Vatican-defined definition for “vulnerable person.”

The new laws also updates the statute of limitations of abuse in the Vatican from four to 20 years after the minor turns 18.

The second text lists 12 brief articles with guidelines for training Vatican employees about abuse risks and prevention methods. It encourages all victims to freely speak out by creating a service offering medical and psychological help to those abused.

The third text contains Pastoral Guidelines for the Vicariate or “Vatican Diocese”. Adults must be visible to others if with a minor. Additionally, to contact a minor by telephone or on social networks, adults must obtain parents’ and guardians’ written consent.

The new norms are not canonical, rather civil and pastoral for the Vatican. It states priests are assumed innocent until proven guilty and a person found guilty of abuse will lose his or her Vatican job.

With these new laws Pope Francis is specifically setting an example as a model for the global Church. The new law will go into effect June 1, while the guidelines are enforced immediately under a three year trial period.