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Vatican issues manual for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors

By Katie Ascough - 17 July, 2020

“Only a profound knowledge of the law and its aims can render due service to truth and justice” – Vademecum on sexual abuse of minors.

According to Vatican News, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has published an “instruction manual”: a step-by-step guide to help ascertain the truth in cases of minors who have suffered abuse on the part of a member of the clergy.

The manual, formally a Vademecum, responds to the main questions to several procedural steps regarding how cases of the sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy should be handled. It is a tool designed to help ordinaries and legal professionals who need to apply canonical norms to actual cases regarding the delicta graviora (more serious delict or crime). The Vademecum says such crimes referred to as delicta graviora “constitute for the whole Church a profound and painful wound that cries out for healing”.

The request for this tool was made during the global Meeting of the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences on the Protection of Minors, held in the Vatican in February 2019. This edition of the Vademecum is identified as version ‘1.0’ since periodic updates are foreseen. As the Vademecum itself states: “Only a profound knowledge of the law and its aims can render due service to truth and justice, which are especially to be sought in matters of graviora delicta by reason of the deep wounds they inflict upon ecclesial communion.”

The Vademecum emphasises, first and foremost, the protection of the person: the ecclesiastical authorities are to “ensure that the alleged victim and his or her family are treated with dignity and respect”. They are to be offered “welcome, attentive hearing and support, also through specific services, as well as spiritual, medical and psychological help, as required by the specific case. The same can be done with regard to the accused,” adds the manual.

It also highlights the importance of defending “the good name of the persons involved”. In the case of protecting the common good, the Vademecum underlines that providing information regarding an accusation does not “constitute a violation of one’s good name”.

The full text of the Vademecum can be found by clicking here.

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