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Vatican launches global consultation on safeguarding guidelines

30 June 2023


Pope Francis meets members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at the Vatican, in May

Pope Francis meets members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at the Vatican, in May

THE Roman Catholic Church has launched a global consultation on updated guidelines to prevent the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable persons.

In a Vatican communiqué last week, the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors says that it hopes that the proposed new framework will be “a model to define safeguarding standards to be implemented in every local church across the world”. It will also focus on “assisting people impacted by abuse and the importance of dealing appropriately with instances of abuse”.

Roman Catholics are invited, through an online survey, to give feedback on the guidelines, based on a decade’s analysis of the work carried out throughout the Church and civil society. The Commission had “identified a series of core principles that are designed to underpin local safeguarding guidelines and policies in each local church”, the statement said.

It refers to the 2019 Apostolic Letter (motu proprio) Vos Estis Lux Mundi, in which the Pope wrote: “The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.

“In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church, so that personal sanctity and moral commitment can contribute to promoting the full credibility of the gospel message and the effectiveness of the Church’s mission.

“It is good that procedures be universally adopted to prevent and combat these crimes that betray the trust of the faithful.”

The new universal guidelines “will require local churches to provide systems for receiving and managing accusations of abuse and for supporting all those affected especially victims and survivors according to requirements of the Holy Father’s instruction”.

Other requirements mentioned in the statement include accompaniment of those affected by abuse and the communities affected; a stated commitment to safeguarding and accountable mechanisms for church leadership; risk-prevention measures; and “pastoral conversion towards a culture of safeguarding based on ongoing formation and training for all ministers in the Church”.

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