Vatican City:Pope Francis today passed a law to oblige those who have knowledge about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to communicate it to their superiors, after a global clerical paedophilia scandal.
Every diocese across the world will now be required to have a system for abuse reporting under a new law announced by the Vatican, but the measure will not apply to the secrets that are revealed to priests during Confessions. This is the time to learn from “…bitter lesson of the past…”, Pope Francis said in the legal decree text.
The Motu Proprio, a legal document issued under the Pope’s personal authority, declares that anyone who has knowledge of abuse or suspects it is “…obliged to report (it) promptly…” to the Church, using “…easily accessible systems…”
The document aims particularly on the psychological or sexual abuse of children and helpless adults, but also covers violence and sexual exploitation resulting from abuse of power, such as the priests exploiting the nuns.
“Though this obligation was formerly left up to individual consciences, it now becomes a universally established legal precept” within the Catholic Church, said Andrea Tornielli, Editorial Director of the Vatican’s communications department.
The law is only applicable within the Church and has no power to oblige individuals to disclose abuse to civil authorities.